Re: Diffusion of Innovations

Aaron Lynch (
Thu, 10 Sep 1998 12:40:41 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 12:40:41 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Diffusion of Innovations
In-Reply-To: <000d01bddc87$4972d500$6c4d95c1@pc>

At 07:50 AM 9/10/98 +0100, you wrote:
>Mes ch=E8res Derek and Aaron
>It's great to see people referring, albeit obliquely, to research on
>contagion and diffusion. Chapter 2, entitled "Contagion and Diffusion" in
>Rapoport's Mathematical Models in the Social and Behavioural Sciences=
>might be illuminating for memeticists who want to know how contagion and
>diffusion processes are linked.
>Rogers himself (1983) defines innovation as
>"Innovation: An innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is=
>as new by an individual or other unit of adoption."
>So yes, an innovation may include mental memetics. But, and this is
>critical, the only way of measuring them is through resultant behaviour.
>Diffusion/contagion research is the principal alternative in the social
>sciences to Rational Choice Theory (operationalised through conjoint
>analysis) for predicting Customer Behaviour.
>The basic principle of diffusion research is to model and predict the
>market penetration of new products, that is purchasing behaviour. Now in
>order to do this we have to posit a number of values that when added to the
>formula, model the relationship between (awareness) exposure and infection
>(purchase - customer behaviour). In the case of diffusion these the
>coefficients of imitation and the coefficient of innovation. (I have just
>been involved with building such a model for Pfizer and Viagra in the UK)
>The basic equation upon which diffusion works is the Bass Equation which
>states that
>f(k + 1) =3D p[1 - F(k)] + qF(k)[1 - F(k)]
>f(k) =3D probability of adoption in period k
>F(k) =3D fraction of ultimate potential that has adopted through period k
>p =3D coefficient of innovation
>q =3D coefficient of imitation
>An extra weight is also usually added to the communication channel - i.e.
>depth and breadth of exposure
>The coefficient of innovation is comprised of five attributes of the
>Relative Advantage:
>"the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the
>idea it supersedes."
>"the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with
>existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters."
>"the degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand
>and use."
>"the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited
>"the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others."
>These factors can be, and are, quantified through market research
>(researchers have developed techniques that indirectly assess these
>factors.) Now, in 1971 Rogers an Shoemaker reviewed over 700 empirical
>studies of BEHAVIOUR that evaluated the weight of the different variables
>that impacted on contagion. It might just be worthwhile building on this
>research in building memetic models.
>Rogers, E.M. & Shoemaker, F.F. (1971) Communication of Innovations. (2nd
>Ed.) NY. The Free Press
>Now in 1970
>Rapoport, A (1983) Mathematical Models in the Social and Behavioural
>Paul Marsden
>Graduate Research Centre in the Social Sciences
>University of Sussex
>tel/fax (44) (0) 117 974 1279
>Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission:

Merci beaucoup, Paul.

Interesting that you are applying this to Viagra.

An upcoming paper of mine in the Journal of Sex Research will discuss some
of the thought contagion ramifications of Viagra and similar drugs.

--Aaron Lynch

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