Photo of Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger

Associate Professor of Marketing

Research Interests: social influence, word of mouth, viral marketing, diffusion, product adoption and abandonment, social contagion, consumer behavior

Links: CV, Personal Website

Contact Information

Address: 768 Jon M. Huntsman Hall, 3730 Walnut Street
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304
Office: (215) 898-8249
Office Fax: (215) 898-2534


Bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

For most recent news and research, see


Jonah Berger is an expert on word of mouth, social influence, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He has published dozens of articles in top-tier academic journals, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. Berger’s recent book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller and hundreds of thousand of copies are in print in over 30 languages.  Berger is a popular speaker at major conferences and events and has consulted for a variety of companies including Google, Coca-Cola, Disney, GE, Vanguard, Unilever, General Motors, 3M, Kaiser Permanente and The Gates Foundation.


  • Ezgi Akpinar, Jonah Berger (2015), Drivers of Cultural Success: The Case of Sensory Metaphors, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
  • Jonah Berger (2014), Does Presentation Order Impact Choice After Delay?, Topics in Cognitive Science
  • Jonah Berger, Katherine L. Milkman (2014), The Science of Sharing and the Sharing of Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  
  • Jonah Berger (2014), Beyond Viral: Interpersonal Communication in the Internet Age, Psychological Inquiry  
  • Jonah Berger (2014), Word-of-Mouth and Interpersonal Communication: A Review and Directions for Future Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology  
  • Amit Bhattacharjee, Jonah Berger, Geeta Menon (2014), Escaping the Crosshairs: When Identity Marketing Backfires, Journal of Consumer Research  
  • Katherine L. Milkman, Jonah Berger (2014), The Science of Sharing and the Sharing of Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 13642 - 13649.
  • Jonah Berger, Zoey Chen (2013), When, Why, and How Controversy Causes Conversation, Journal of Consumer Research  
  • Jonah Berger, Raghuram Iyengar (2013), Communication Channels and Word of Mouth: How the Medium Shapes the Message, Journal of Consumer Research  
  • Aner Sela, Jonah Berger, Gia Nardini (Work In Progress), How Tradeoffs Shrink Attribute Hierarchy.  
  • Aner Sela, Jonah Berger (2012), How Attribute Quantity Influences Option Choice, Journal of Marketing Research, XLIX, 942 - 953.    Abstract
  • Blakeley McShane, Eric Bradlow, Jonah Berger (2012), Visual Influence and Social Groups, Journal of Marketing Research, XLIX, 854 - 871.    Abstract
  • Cindy Chan, Jonah Berger, Leaf Van Boven (2012), Identifiable but Not Identical: Combining Social Identity and Uniqueness Motives in Choice, Journal of Consumer Research, 39 (3), 561 - 573.    Abstract
  • Jonah Berger, Katy Milkman (2012), What Makes Online Content Viral?, Journal of Marketing Research, Forthcoming.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger, Eric Schwartz (2011), What Drives Immediate and Ongoing Word-of-Mouth?, Journal of Marketing Research, October, 869-880.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Aner Sela, Jonah Berger (2011), Decision Quicksand: When Trivial Choices Suck Us In, Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Eva Buechel, Jonah Berger (Under Review), Facebook Therapy? Why Do People Share Self-Relevant Content Online?.  
  • Jonah Berger (2011), Arousal Increases Social Transmission of Information, Psychological Science, 22(7), 891-893.  
  • Jonah Berger, Devin Pope (2011), Can Losing Lead to Winning?, Management Science, 57(5), 817-827.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger, Ben Ho, Yogesh Joshi (Working), Identity Signaling with Social Capital: A Model of Symbolic Consumption.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger, Baba Shiv (2011), Food, Sex, and the Hunger for Distinction, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21, 464 - 472.    Abstract  Description
  • Raghu Iyengar, Jonah Berger (Under Review), How the Quantity and Timing of Social Influence Impact Product Adoption.    Abstract
  • Lindsay Rand, Jonah Berger, eds., Using Identity Signaling to Combat Obeisity and Improve Public Health (2011).  
  • Nathanael J. Fast, Jonah Berger (Under Review), Message Splitting: Using Self-Relevant Material to Increase Prosocial Behavior.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger, Morgan Ward (2010), Subtle Signals of Inconspicuous Consumption, Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 555 - 569.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger, Alan T. Sorensen, Scott J. Rasmussen (2010), Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales, Marketing Science, 29 (5), 815 - 827.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Andrew Stephen, Jonah Berger (Working), Creating Contagious: How Social Networks and Item Characteristics Combine to Spur Ongoing Consumption and Drive Social Epidemics.    Abstract
  • Jonah Berger, Chip Heath, Ben Ho (Working), Divergence in Cultural Practices: Tastes as Signals of Identity.  
  • Yaniv Dover, Jonah Berger, Jacob Goldenberg, Daniel Shapira (Working), Using the Internet to Spot Secrets.  
  • Jonah Berger (Working), When Does Social Influence Attract versus Repel? Identity-Signaling, Conformity, and Divergence.  
  • Lindsay Rand, Jonah Berger, eds., Leveraging Consumer Psychology for Effective Health Communications: The Obesity Challenge (2010).
  • Jonah Berger, "Using Identity Signaling to Improve Public Health". In Leveraging Consumer Psychology for Effective Health Communications: The Obesity Challenge, edited by Lindsay Rand, Jonah Berger, (2010).
  • Jonah Berger, Gael Le Mens (2009), How Adoption Speed Affects the Abandonment of Cultural Tastes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 8146 - 8150.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Aner Sela, Jonah Berger, Wendy Liu (2009), Variety, Vice, and Virtue: How Assortment Size Influences Option Choice, Journal of Consumer Research, 35 (3), 941 - 951.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger (2009), Key Considerations in Studying Cultural Abandonment Using Baby Names, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Jonah Berger, Chip Heath (2008), Who Drives Divergence? Identity-Signaling, Outgroup Dissimilarity, and the Abandonment of Cultural Tastes, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95 (3), 593 - 607.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger, Lindsay Rand (2008), Shifting Signals to Help Health: Using Identity-Signaling to Reduce Risky Health Behaviors, Journal of Consumer Research, 35 (2), 509 - 518.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger, Marc Meredith, S. Christian Wheeler (2008), Contextual Priming: Where People Vote Affects How They Vote, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105 (26), 8846 - 8849.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger (2008), Identity-Signaling, Social Influence, and Social Contagion, Peer Influence Processes Among Youth, Eds. Mitch Prinstein and Ken Dodge, Guilford Press.  
  • Jonah Berger, Grainne M. Fitzsimons (2008), Dogs on the Street, Pumas on Your Feet: How Cues in the Environment Influence Product Evaluation and Choice, Journal of Marketing Research, 45 (1), 1 - 14.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger, Chip Heath (2007), Where Consumers Diverge from Others: Identity-Signaling and Product Domains, Journal of Consumer Research, 34 (2), 121 - 134.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • S. Christian Wheeler, Jonah Berger (2007), When the Same Prime Leads to Different Effects, Journal of Consumer Research, 34 (3), 357 - 368.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger, Michaela Draganska, Itamar Simonson (2007), The Influence of Product Variety on Brand Perceptions and Choice, Marketing Science, 26, 460 - 472.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Emily Pronin, Jonah Berger, Sarah Molouki (2007), Alone in a Crowd of Sheep: Asymmetric Perceptions of Conformity and Their Roots in an Introspection Illusion,, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92 (4), 585 - 595.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger (2006), Focal points in coordinated divergence, Journal of Economic Psychology  
  • Jonah Berger, Chip Heath (2005), Idea Habitats: How the Prevalence of Environmental Cues Influences the Success of Ideas, Cognitive Science, 29 (2), 195 - 221.    Abstract  Description

Awards And Honors

  • Early Career Award, Association for Consumer Research, 2012
  • Early Career Award, Society for Consumer Psychology, 2012
  • MBA Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation Award, 2011
  • MSI - Young Scholars Program, 2011
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, Journal of Consumer Research, 2011
  • Top 10 Reviewer Award, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2011
  • Winner, Iron Professor Competition, The Wharton School, 2011
  • JCR Best Paper in 2007 Award, Finalist, 2010

In The News

Knowledge @ Wharton



  • MKTG611 - Marketing Management

    This course addresses how to design and implement the best combination of marketing efforts to carry out a firm's strategy in its target markets. Specifically, this course seeks to develop the student's (1) understanding of how the firm can benefit by creating and delivering value to its customers, and stakeholders, and (2) skills in applying the analytical concepts and tools of marketing to such decisions as segmentation and targeting, branding, pricing, distribution, and promotion. The course uses lectures and case discussions, case write-ups, student presentations, and a comprehensive final examination to achieve these objectives.

    MKTG611009  ( Syllabus

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  • MKTG728 - Contagious: How Products, Ideas and Behaviors Catch On

    Why do some products catch on and achieve huge popularity while others fail? Why do some behaviors spread like wildfire while others languish? How do certain ideas seem to stick in memory while others disappear the minute you hear them? More broadly, what factors lead to trends, social contagion, and social epidemics?

    Interactive media, word of mouth, and viral marketing are important issues for companies, brands, and organizations. This course looks at these and other topics as it examines how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on and become popular. Marketers want their product to be popular, organizations want their social change initiative to catch on and entrepreneurs want their ideas to stick. This course will touch on four main aspects: (1) Characteristics of products, ideas, and behaviors that lead them to be successful. (2) Aspects of individual psychology that influence what things are successful. (3) Interpersonal processes, or how interactions between individuals drive success. (4) Social networks, or how patterns of social ties influence success.