How Many People Does It Take to Start a Revolution?
How many people does it take to start a revolution? This is the question! For the past decades, scientists have been trying to figure the percentage of people needed in order to make a change. So far, over the last 50 years, numbers have varied from 10% to 40%, but the latest study conducted by Damon Centola, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Engineering and Applied Science says that 25% is the magic number to make a difference!
The study published by Science says that 25% of a group is enough to make a social change occur. This percentage applies at the workplace and it goes the same way for social movements, such as revolutions.
“What we were able to do in this study was to develop a theoretical model that would predict the size of the critical mass needed to shift group norms, and then test it experimentally,” says the lead author of the study.
“When a community is close to a tipping point to cause large-scale social change, there’s no way they would know this,” added Damon Centola, who directs the Network Dynamics Group at the Annenberg School. “And if they’re just below a tipping point, their efforts will fail. But, remarkably, just by adding one more person, and getting above the 25% tipping point, their efforts can have rapid success in changing the entire population’s opinion.”
“Our findings present a stark contrast to centuries of thinking about social change in classical economics, in which economists typically think a majority of activists is needed to change a population’s norms,” says Damon Centola.
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“The classical model, called equilibrium stability analysis, would dictate that 51% or more is needed to initiate real social change. We found, both theoretically and experimentally, that a much smaller fraction of the population can effectively do this.”