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Strange Contagion: Inside the Surprising Science of Infectious Behaviors and Viral Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In 2009, tragedy struck the town of Palo Alto: A student from the local high school had died by suicide by stepping in front of an oncoming train. Grief-stricken, the community mourned what they thought was an isolated loss. Until, a few weeks later, it happened again. And again. And again. In six months, the high school lost five students to suicide at those train tracks. ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by Harper Wave
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Average rating 3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  98 ratings  ·  34 reviews


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Start your review of Strange Contagion: Inside the Surprising Science of Infectious Behaviors and Viral Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves
Deb
Psychology and especially why people do what they do has always fascinated me so I was immediately pulled into Strange Contagion. I was not familiar with the Palo Alto tragedies where a series of students and recent graduates from one high school committed suicide on the commuter train tracks, and it is both sad and mystifying. Besides living in the same town and going to the same high school, there was no real connection to these students--they all participated in different activities and were ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, non-fiction, science
"Strange Contagion" is a look at how ideas, thoughts, and emotions can be passed between different people. When I hear the word contagion, I think about things like communicable diseases. They are passed from person to person because of people being in close proximity to others. In this book, Kravetz explores how this same sort of passing from person to person can happen with a whole array of things to include thoughts even when the person being passed the thoughts had never had that particular ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Strange Contagion by Lee Daniel Kravetz is a very highly recommended look at both the science and lived experience of social contagion.

Kravetz began examining what lead to the outbreak of teenage suicide in Palo Alto, CA, in 2009 and he realized that "social contagions, the ways in which others influence our lives by way of catchable thoughts, emotions, and behaviors was the only way to understand and describe the events as they transpired." This thought is the impetus that began his exploration
...more
Erica
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
This book is about the interesting phenomenon of contagious behavior. It includes suicide as well as positive behaviors. The author gives many examples, and the book is well researched and has an extensive list of cited sources. On the other hand, the author meanders and ponders a lot and inserts himself into the story and I found those parts not very interesting. It was a fast read.
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Since 2009 the life in the Silicon Valley town of Palo Alto was disrupted by a series of high school teenagers committing suicide. Respected journalist Lee Daniel Kravetz, a newbie in town and fathership, wrote Strange Contagion: Inside the Surprising Science of Infectious Behaviors and Viral Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves, about the quest for the rationale for this special kind of social contagion.

Kravetz did a step-by-step investigationon possiblecauses: frombulimia, stress
...more
Kayo
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Heavy reading! Interesting but sad and heartbreaking.
Katherine Ramsland
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Peter Mcloughlin
Reads like a string of human interest stories with every cliche of puff journalism. Jesus is this a blog.
Maisie Ogata
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Everyone should read.
Peter Tillman
Jan 22, 2018 marked it as not-interested
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/bo...

Christopher Chabris pans the book, but likes the idea:

"Research by sociologists, economists and psychologists has established that imitation and other mechanisms of social transmission cause norms, behaviors and moods to spread from person to person, without those people necessarily being aware of how they had been influenced or by whom. We are so susceptible to contagion that it must serve some positive purpose, but in our world many negative behaviors
...more
Allyssa
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nfic
Fascinating topic. However, Strange Contagion is merely creative nonfiction with sporadic references to scientific phenomena and research. I would have been more compelled if Kravetz had delved deeper into his subject and gave us a more scientific account of priming, community, and how social networks influence us.
Eustacia Tan
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nlb-ereads
I picked this up because it sounded interesting! Strange Contagion is about how emotions and behaviours can spread, which is definitely not something that I thought about before.

Strange Contagion starts when Lee Daniel Kravetz moves to Palo Alto and a student from the local high school jumps in front of a train. That’s sad, but what’s scary is that students from that school started to jump/tried to jump after that trigger incident, prompting him to look into why this was happening.

To be honest
...more
Rosa
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Several students from Henry M. Gunn High School at Palo Alto committed suicide. These unexpected and tragic events were the catalyst for Lee Daniel Kravetz to write Strange Contagion. Moreover, Kravetz was affected by these circumstances as he used to live in this community, and considered the future safety of his own children.

Kravetz investigated about social contagion, a term used by the French social psychologist Le Bon (1895) to describe a specific form of social influence.1 Furthermore, a
...more
Angie
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is only part of the review for the rest go to Readaholic Zone!

I am sure you are familiar with this situation; you have met some friends at a coffee shop and the person at the next table is having a loud irate conversation on their cell. What happens next? You start getting frustrated and the more it goes on, the more irritated you and your friends get until this one individual has drained all the fun from your gathering. That readers is social contagion.

Social Contagion has to be one of
...more
Laurie Doyle
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kravetz deftly weaves expert scientific analysis of the frightening epidemic of teen suicide with an urgent and more personal question of his own. Should he and his wife raise their children in the epicenter of this tragic trend in Silicon Valley where they might "catch" self-destructive behavior from others as they grow up? The resulting mix makes for a fascinating book that gives us insight instead of magical thinking, hope where there was once only despair. "Strange Contagion" is one of the ...more
Julie
May 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I expected this book to be more generally about viral emotions and mass hysteria, but it was rather specifically about a cluster of suicides in California. I feel like the subtitle of this book misled me.

It was still interesting, but it wasn't quite the narrative I signed up for. In fact, I didn't expect a particular overarching narrative of the author trying to work out what caused the suicide cluster and how it might be stopped. I was expecting several distinct stories and lots of underlying
...more
Janet
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this study of the contagious nature of emotions fascinating. Anyone who has experienced the uplifting feeling of being in a positive crowd, whether at a sporting event, a concert, church, etc has experienced this. The author investigates how both positive and negative emotions spread, and how we as individuals can influence the mood of those around us, for better or for worse.
Josh Lovvorn
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Light in detail and research on the actual topi and heavy on inordinate detail about the actual leg work he did to learn about this topic. Three paragraphs about the office of psychology researchers is just not necessary. Seemed more of an anxiety piece about living in Silicon Valley. Disappointing since I am witnessing social contagion frequently in my practice as a pediatrician.
Tena
Jan 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2-goodread_wins
I never received my copy that I won in a GOODREADS giveaway back on May 15, 2018. I've reached out with no response. Sadly, I need to clear my reading queue & shall assign a 1 star rating. I was excited to have won & looked forward to reading. If I ever receive it, I'll read & post corrected review.
Nancy Seamons
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Why are high students committing suicide by walking in front of a moving train? Kravetz explains the paradox of 'social contagion' and how the knowledge of the actions of others influences people to do the same, no matter how damaging and detrimental those actions may be for themselves and society.
Jessica
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good book. Interesting thoughts on suicide and how family and experience play into it.
Albert Hong
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Engaging read, but ultimately unsatisfying in it's findings.
Dana
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed this book on my blog.
Katharine Rudzitis
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Well synthesized exploration of recent clusters of events, but I wish the connections had been fleshed out more.
Elizabeth
Oct 02, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF. Gave up at p.164.
Sharon
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascination to learn how things get passed from one to another, throughout communities, and even across the country. Social media contributes greatly to the spread of these social contageons.
John
Jul 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
The author wrote a lot of words yet came to no conclusions or found any solutions.
Anita
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wanted to like this, but found it lacking. Many students from Gunn & Paly have written about the immense pressure to "succeed" at the school in the local paper as elsewhere, and as a former Gunn student, I agree with them - it was already headed in that direction more than 20 years ago. But the students' perspectives don't seem to be enough for parents, and perhaps especially parents from outside the community as Kravetz was when he started looking at the issue.

The problem that he doesn't
...more
Tina Myers
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lee Daniel Kravetz takes us on a journey with him to understand the how emotions can go viral and how we, as individuals and groups, can play a part in fomenting or preventing potentially harmful behaviors. This "strange contagion" is a salient topic in the current socio-political environment and the book is both well researched and masterfully written. While the subject matter is tragic in nature, the author leaves the reader with not only hope but a way to take action.
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