The Tipping Point


Malcolm Gladwell

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Themes and Colors
Tipping Points and the Importance of Small Changes Theme Icon
Social Clout and “Word-of-Mouth” Theme Icon
Stickiness Theme Icon
Context versus Character Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Tipping Point, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Tipping Points and the Importance of Small Changes

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell tries to explain why certain ideas, products, behaviors, and messages become popular while others do not. Although this is an extremely broad topic, the book argues that all successful trends must reach a “tipping point”: in other words, a point at which they move rapidly from being almost unheard of to being very popular. A successful trend reaches its tipping point; an unsuccessful trend does not. As the…

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Social Clout and “Word-of-Mouth”

One useful way to think about social epidemics is to analyze them in terms of the kinds of people who enable them. It’s commonly accepted that certain ideas and products become popular because information about them spreads by “word-of-mouth”; in other words, people tell other people about a trend. However, the process in which a trend spreads by word-of-mouth doesn’t depend equally on all people; instead, certain kinds of people with a disproportionately large amount…

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Another important way to analyze social epidemics is to discuss the content being disseminated. Although it’s important for people to spread ideas and products, these people must first decide that the idea or product is worth spreading. Therefore, the idea or product needs to appeal to people it some way. Not only must it be likeable; it must also be memorable, so that it’s easy to pass on to other people. Gladwell coins the term…

read analysis of Stickiness
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Context versus Character

Another way to think about social epidemics is to analyze them in terms of the context in which the epidemic is taking place. The Tipping Point shows how context—in other words, the environment or social situation in which people live and interact—can be an important determinant of social epidemics, and of people’s behavior in general. In the process, the book introduces the idea that context actually plays a much larger role in determining people’s behavior…

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