Press "Enter" to skip to content

BookMark It: The Tipping Point

By Corey Pollnow


Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point came out in January of 2002 and was a #1 National Bestseller. “The Tipping Point occurs when a concept or message gets taken from a small-scale and becomes of epic proportion.

It’s a relatively easy read and poses eight different questions about epidemics. Gladwell answers the questions within the sociology framework and discusses the underlying causes or the “tipping points” in each epidemic.

Baltimore’s drastic increase in syphilis in the ’90s, Paul Revere’s famous ride, as well as why the crime rate dropped in New York City during the ’90s are just a few of the topics that Gladwell touches.

In the introduction, Gladwell asks the reader: “Why is it that some ideas or behaviors or products start epidemics and others don’t?”

Gladwell states there are three theories as to why epidemics occur. One of his theories is the stickiness factor: “The Stickiness Factor says that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a big difference in how much of an impact it makes.”

Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues are cited as two children’s television shows that became main stream as a result of the writers and producers understanding the stickiness factor. The two shows were heavily tested with children to ensure they comprehended the intent or meaning of the episodes.

Gladwell also discusses the power of context.

“Human beings invariably make the mistake of overestimating the importance of fundamental character traits and underestimating the importance of the situation and the context.” Gladwell cites an experiment conducted on two groups of highly skilled basketball players that are being observed.

One group was shooting in a well-lit gym and the other group was shooting in a dark gym. The group that was shooting in the dim gym struggled to shoot well because of the inferior circumstances, or what Gladwell calls, “the power of context.” Essentially, Gladwell is saying that the world isn’t black and white, yes or no, or good or bad. Everything is much more complex.

Drugs, sex and violence are all popular culture topics that interest the majority of people and “The Tipping point” touches all three.

If you’re one of those people that is constantly asking why or how in all aspects of life, you’ll enjoy this book.

Unlike many books that start slow, Gladwell doesn’t struggle in the beginning pages to get your attention.

This book will cause you to think more cerebrally about your interactions with people, and how a situation or conversation can be manipulated for the better or worse.