Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science
Ph.D., Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 1995
M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1989
M.P.H., Harvard School of Public Health, 1988
Areas of Interest:
Network Science; Health, Medicine and Biosocial Science; Biodemography; Quantitative Methodology
17 Hillhouse Avenue, Room 303
Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a sociologist and physician who conducts research in the areas of social networks and biosocial science. He directs the Human Nature Lab.
His current research is mainly focused on two topics: (1) the social, mathematical, and biological rules governing how social networks form (“connection”), and (2) the social and biological implications of how they operate to influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (“contagion”). His lab uses both observational and experimental methods to study these phenomena, exploiting techniques from sociology, computer science, biosocial science, demography, statistics, behavior genetics, evolutionary biology, epidemiology, and other fields.
To the extent that diverse phenomena can spread within networks in intelligible ways, there are important policy implications since such spread can be exploited to improve the health or other desirable properties of groups (such as cooperation or innovation). Hence, current work in the lab involves conducting field experiments: some work involves the use of large-scale, online network experiments; other work involves large-scale randomized controlled trials in the developing world where networks are painstakingly mapped. Finally, some work in the lab examines the biological determinants and consequences of social interactions and related phenomena, with a particular emphasis on the genetic origins and evolutionary implications of social networks.
The author of four books and over 200 articles, Christakis was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006 and was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010 and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.
- Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care (1999) ISBN 978-0226104706
- Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (2009) - with James Fowler ISBN 978-0316036146
- Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society (2019) ISBN 978-0316230032
- Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live (2020) ISBN 978-0316628228
- Christakis, NA; Allison, PD (2006). “Mortality after the Hospitalization of a Spouse” (PDF). New England Journal of Medicine. 354 (7): 719–730.
- Christakis, NA; Fowler, JH (2007). “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years” (PDF). New England Journal of Medicine. 357 (4): 370–379.
- Elwert, F; Christakis, NA (2008). “The Effect of Widowhood on Mortality by the Causes of Death of Both Spouses” (PDF). American Journal of Public Health. 98 (11): 2092–2098.
- Christakis, NA; Fowler, JH (2008). “Quitting in Droves: Collective Dynamics of Smoking Behavior in a Large Social Network” (PDF). New England Journal of Medicine. 358 (21): 2249–2258.
- Fowler, JH; Christakis, NA (2009). “The Dynamic Spread of Happiness in a Large Social Network” (PDF). British Medical Journal. 337 (768): a2338.
- Fowler, JH; Dawes, CT; Christakis, NA (2009). “Model of genetic variation in human social networks”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106 (6): 1720–1724.
- Fowler, JH; Christakis, NA (2010). “Cooperative Behavior Cascades in Human Social Networks”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (12): 5334–8.
- Christakis, NA; Fowler, JH (2010). “Social Network Sensors for Early Detection of Contagious Outbreaks”. PLOS ONE. 5 (9): e12948.
- Fowler, JH; Settle, JE; Christakis, NA (2011). “Correlated Genotypes in Friendship Networks”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (5): 1993–7.
- Rand, DG; Arbesman, S; Christakis, NA (2011). “Dynamic Social Networks Promote Cooperation in Experiments with Humans”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (48): 19193–8.
- Apicella, CL; Marlowe, FW; Fowler, JH; Christakis, NA (2012). “Social Networks and Cooperation in Hunter-Gatherers” (PDF). Nature. 481 (7382): 497–501.
- Christakis, NA; Fowler, JH (2014). “Friendship and Natural Selection”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (3): 10796–10801.
- Nishi, CL; Shirado, FW; Rand, DG; Christakis, NA (2015). “Inequality and Visibility of Wealth in Experimental Social Networks”. Nature. 526 (7382): 426–429.
- Kim, DA; Hwong, AR; Stafford, D; Hughes, DA; O’Malley, AJ; Fowler, JH; Christakis, NA (2015). “Social Network Targeting to Maximize Population Behavior Change: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial”. The Lancet. 386 (9989): 145–153.
- Shirado, H; Christakis, NA (2017). “Locally Noisy Autonomous Agents Improve Global Human Coordination in Network Experiments”. Nature. 545 (7654): 370–374.
- Traeger, ML; Sebo, SS; Jung, M; Scassellati, B; Christakis, NA (2020). “Vulnerable Robots Shape Human Conversational Dynamics in a Human-Robot Team”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 117 (12): 6370–6375.
- Jia, JS; Lu, X; Yuan, Y; Xu, G; Jia, J; Christakis, NA (2020). “Population Flow Drives Spatio-Temporal Distribution of COVID-19 in China”. Nature. 582 (7812): 389–394.
- Shirado, H; Christakis, NA (2020). “Network Engineering Using Autonomous Agents Increases Cooperation in Human Groups”. iScience. 23 (9): 101438.
- Alexander, M; Forastiere, L; Gupta, S; Christakis, NA. (2022-07-26). “Algorithms for seeding social networks can enhance the adoption of a public health intervention in urban India”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 119 (30): e2120742119.
Courses and Seminars
- SOCY 126, Health of the Public
- CSYC 295, Great Big Ideas
- SOCY 636, Biosocial Science
- Yale Department of Medicine
- Yale Institute for Network Science