Jonah Berger y Gaël Le Mens (2009). How Adoption Speed Affects the Abandonment of Cultural Tastes Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS), 106:8146-8150
Products, styles, and social movements often catch on and become popular, but little is known about why such identityrelevant cultural tastes and practices die out. We demonstrate that the velocity of adoption may affect abandonment: Analysis of over 100 years of data on first-name adoption in both France and the United States illustrates that cultural tastes that have been adopted quickly die faster (i.e., are less likely to persist). Mirroring this aggregate pattern, at the individual level, expecting parents are more hesitant to adopt names that recently experienced sharper increases in adoption. Further analysis indicate that these effects are driven by concerns about symbolic value: Fads are perceived negatively, so people avoid identity relevant items with sharply increasing popularity because they believe that they will be short lived. Ancillary analyses also indicate that, in contrast to conventional wisdom, identity relevant cultural products that are adopted quickly tend to be less successful overall (i.e., reduced cumulative adoption). These results suggest a potential alternate way to explain diffusion patterns that are traditionally seen as driven by saturation of a pool of potential adopters. They also shed light on one factor that may lead cultural tastes to die out.
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Gaël Le Mens is an Associate Professor of Economics and Business and at Pompeu Fabra University. He holds a PhD from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford, USA. His research focuses on learning by individuals and organizations, and the dynamics of collective judgments and behavior. His work has been published in top international scientific journals such as Psychological Review, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA (PNAS), Cognition, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and Administrative Science Quarterly. Popular accounts have appeared in the New York Times, the Times (London), WSJ.com, FT.com, USA Today, ABCNews.com, Focus and other in-print and online periodicals. Gael Le Mens teaches Organizational Behavior at the Barcelona School of Management-UPF.