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


For most recent news and research, see

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 60 articles in top‐tier academic journals, teaches one of the world’s most popular online courses, and accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. Millions of 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.

Continue Reading


  • Grant Packard and Jonah Berger (Forthcoming), The Emergence and Evolution of Consumer Language Research, Journal of Consumer Research.

  • Grant Packard and Jonah Berger (2023), How Verb Tense Shapes Persuasion, Journal of Consumer Research.

  • Reihane Boghrati and Jonah Berger (2023), Quantifying Cultural Change: Gender Bias in Music, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

  • Giovanni Luca Cascio-Rizzo, Jonah Berger, Rumen Pozharliev, Matteo De Angelis (2023), How Sensory Language Shapes Consumer Responses to Influencer-Sponsored Content, Journal of Consumer Research.

  • Jonah Berger, Wendy Moe, David Schweidel (2023), What Holds Attention? Linguistic Drivers of Engagement, Journal of Marketing.

    Abstract: From advertisers and marketers to salespeople and leaders, everyone wants to hold attention. They want to make ads, pitches, presentations, and content that captivates audiences and keeps them engaged. But not all content has that effect.  What makes some content more engaging? A multi-method investigation combines controlled experiments with  natural language processing of 600,000 reading sessions from over 35,000 pieces of content to examine what types of language hold attention and why. Results demonstrate that linguistic features associated with processing ease (e.g., concrete or familiar words) and emotion both play an important role. Rather than simply being driven by valence, though, the effects of emotional language are driven by the degree to which different discrete emotions evoke arousal and uncertainty. Consistent with this, anxious, exciting, and hopeful language holds attention while sad language discourages it. Experimental evidence underscores emotional language’s causal impact and demonstrates the mediating role of uncertainty and arousal. The findings shed light on what holds attention, illustrates how content creators can generate more impactful content, and, as shown in a stylized simulation, have important societal implications for content recommendation algorithms.

  • Grant Packard and Jonah Berger (2023), Wisdom from Words: The Psychology of Consumer Language, Consumer Psychology Review.

  • Evan Weingarten and Jonah Berger (2023), Discussing Proximal Pasts and Far Futures, Journal of Consumer Psychology.

  • Jonah Berger, Matt Rocklage, Grant Packard (2022), Expression Modalities: How Speaking Versus Writing Shapes Word of Mouth, Journal of Consumer Research, 49 (3), pp. 389-408.

  • Jonah Berger, Joshua Conrad Jackson, Ceren Kolsarici (2022), Catalyzing Social Change: Does Concentration Encourage Action?,.

  • Shilpa Madan, Gita Venkataramani Johar, Jonah Berger, Pierre Chandon, Rajesh Chandy, Rebecca Hamilton, Leslie John, Aparna Labroo, Peggy J. Liu, John G. Lynch, Jr. Nina Mazar, Nicole L. Mead, Vikas MIttal, Christine Moorman, Michael Norton, john roberts, Dilip Soman, Madhu Viswanathan, katherine white (2022), Reaching for Rigor and Relevance: Better Marketing Research for a Better World, Marketing Letters.


All Courses

  • 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.

  • MKTG7680 - 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? 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.

  • MKTG8990 - 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.

  • MKTG9520 - 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.

  • MKTG9730 - 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

Knowledge at Wharton

Wharton Stories


Latest Research

Grant Packard and Jonah Berger (Forthcoming), The Emergence and Evolution of Consumer Language Research, Journal of Consumer Research.
All Research

In the News

Changing Someone’s Mind: A Powerful New Approach

The more you allow people to participate in the process, the more effective you’ll be in convincing them to make certain choices, Wharton’s Jonah Berger says in this Nano Tool for Leaders®.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 6/22/2021
All News

Wharton Magazine

Must-Read Wharton Authors
Wharton Magazine - 04/17/2020

Wharton Stories

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
All Stories