Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger
  • Associate Professor of Marketing

Contact Information

Research Interests: Growth Strategy, Influence, Word of Mouth, Change, Natural Language Processing, Viral Marketing

Links: CV, Personal Website

Overview

For most recent news and research, see  jonahberger.com

The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind

Professor Jonah Berger is an internationally bestselling author, and a world-renowned expert on change, influence, word of mouth, natural language processing, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He has published over 50 articles in top‐tier academic journals, teaches Wharton’s most popular online course, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. Over a million copies of his books, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior, and The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind are in print in over 35 countries around the world. Berger often keynotes major conferences and events like SXSW and Cannes Lions, advises various early stage companies, and consults for organizations like Apple, Google, Nike, Amazon, GE, 3M, and The Gates Foundation.

His most recent work uses automated textual analysis and natural language processing to pull behavioral insights from text data (e.g., predicting song success from lyrics, movie success from scripts, and customer satisfaction from service calls).  He co-founded the Technology and Behavioral Science Initiative and helps host an interdisciplinary conference on Behavioral Insights from Text.

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Research

  • Alex Van Zant, Jonah Berger, Grant Packard, Harry Wang, The Power of Pausing.

  • Grant Packard, Yang Li, Jonah Berger, When Employee Language Matters.

  • Henrique Laurino Dos Santos and Jonah Berger (2022), The Speed of Stories: Semantic Progression and Narrative Success, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

  • Demi Oba and Jonah Berger, How Context Shapes Communication.

  • Amir Sepehri, Reihane Boghrati, Jonah Berger (Under Review), Bias Mitigation in Artificial Intelligence.

    Abstract: Companies have become increasingly interested in using machine learning to aid and make decisions. But while these methods can improve prediction accuracy, and sometimes reduce human errors, we demonstrate that they often carry over biases against unprivileged groups (e.g., women and ethnic minorities) and can even intensify such biases. Consequently, this paper provides a framework to identify, quantify, and mitigate such biases. Two studies, including hundreds of thousands of loan requests, demonstrate the value of this approach. By integrating various fairness metrics and bias mitigation algorithms, our framework was able to boost fairness by 200% while keeping performance intact (Study 1) or even improving it (Study 2). Further, the studies highlight how different situations may benefit from different solutions and shed light on when different bias mitigation approaches may be more valuable. Our findings challenge the long-held belief that algorithms are fair, provide a comprehensive framework for quantifying bias, and outline a series of steps and approaches managers and leaders can use to mitigate bias.

  • Reihane Boghrati and Jonah Berger, Misogyny in Music.

  • Grant Packard and Jonah Berger (Under Review), The Persuasive Present (Tense).

  • Olivier Toubia, Jonah Berger, Jehoshua Eliashberg (2021), How Quantifying The Shape of Stories Predicts Their Success, Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences, Vol 118, Issue 26, June 2021, pp. 1-5.

  • Jonah Berger, Yoonduk Kim, Robert Meyer (2021), What makes Content Engaging? How Emotional Dynamics Shape Success, Journal of Consumer Research.

    Abstract: Some cultural products (e.g., movies and books) catch on and become popular, but less is known about why certain succeed and others fail. While some have argued that success is unpredictable, we suggest that period-to-period shifts in emotional tone—what we term emotional volatility—plays an important role.  Automated sentiment analysis of thousands of movies demonstrates that more emotionally volatile movies are evaluated more positively.  This relationship holds controlling for a range of other factors, and, consistent with the notion that emotional volatility makes experiences more stimulating, is stronger in genres where evaluations are more likely to be driven stimulation (i.e., thrillers rather than romance). By manipulating emotional volatility in a follow up experiment, we underscore its causal impact on evaluations, and provide preliminary evidence for the role of stimulation and engagement in driving these effects. Taken together, these results shed light on why things become popular, the time dynamics of emotion, and the psychological foundations of culture more broadly.

  • Jonah Berger and Grant Packard (2021), Using Language to Understand People and Culture, American Psychologist.

Teaching

Past Courses

  • MKTG399 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

  • 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.

  • MKTG6110 - 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.

  • MKTG768 - CONTAGIOUS

    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?

  • MKTG899 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

    A student contemplating an independent study project must first find a faculty member who agrees to supervise and approve the student's written proposal as an independent study (MKTG 899). If a student wishes the proposed work to be used to meet the ASP requirement, he/she should then submit the approved proposal to the MBA adviser who will determine if it is an appropriate substitute. Such substitutions will only be approved prior to the beginning of the semester.

  • MKTG952 - INFORMATION PROCESSING A

    The purpose of this seminar is to provide graduate students with a solid foundation for critical thinking and research in psychology and marketing on information processing related topics. Topics of discussion include consumer knowledge (learning, memory and categorization), attitude theory, persuasion, affect and social influence. The course draws from the literature in marketing, psychology and economics. The course will enable students to conceptualize, operationalize, and develop research ideas. Therefore, the focus is on understanding theoretical and methodological approaches to various aspects of consumer behavior, as well as advancing this knowledge by developing testable hypotheses and theoretical perspectives that build on the current knowledge base.

  • MKTG973 - RESEARCH SEM MKTG PART A

    This course is taught collectively by the faculty members from the Marketing Department. It is designed to expose Doctoral students to the cutting-edge research in marketing models in order to help them to define and advance their research interests. This course will offer: in-depth discussions on some important topics in marketing by experts in respective areas; tools, and methodologies required for conducting research in those areas; broad exposure to our faculty members and their proven research styles.

Awards and Honors

  • William F. O’Dell Award, Journal of Marketing Research,, 2019
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, Journal of Consumer Research, 2016
  • Best 2012 Article Finalist, Journal of Consumer Research, 2015
  • Top 30 Leaders in Business, American Management Association, 2015
  • Berry-AMA Book Prize for Best Book in Marketing, 2014
  • Top 5 Most Productive Researchers in Marketing 2009-13, AMA DocSig, 2013
  • Paul Green Award, Journal of Marketing Research, Finalist, 2013
  • Most Creative People in Business, Fast Company, 2013
  • Early Career Award, Association for Consumer Research, 2012
  • Early Career Award, Society for Consumer Psychology, 2012
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, Journal of Consumer Research, 2011
  • Winner, Iron Professor Competition, The Wharton School, 2011
  • MBA Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation Award, 2011
  • MSI – Young Scholars Program, 2011
  • Top 10 Reviewer Award, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2011
  • JCR Best Paper in 2007 Award, Finalist, 2010

In the News

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Latest Research

Alex Van Zant, Jonah Berger, Grant Packard, Harry Wang, The Power of Pausing.
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In the News

The Science of Blockbusters: What Makes a Good Story?

New research co-authored by Wharton’s Jonah Berger quantifies why some movies, television shows, and other stories are more successful than others.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 3/7/2022
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Wharton Magazine - 04/17/2020

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Orientation in IrvineThe Story Behind Wharton Convocation and 7 Pieces of Advice to Begin Your Academic Journey

Think of Convocation as a bookend to Commencement — you walk together as a class for the first time through the doors of Irvine Auditorium and in two years, you’ll process out of the Palestra as Wharton graduates….

Wharton Stories - 08/06/2018
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