In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell argues that social epidemics are driven in large part by the acting of a tiny minority of special individuals, often called influentials, who are unusually informed, persuasive, or well-connected. The idea is intuitively compelling, but it doesn't explain how ideas actually spread.
The supposed importance of influentials derives from a plausible sounding but largely untested theory called the "two step flow of communication": Information flows from the media to the influentials and from them to everyone else. Marketers have embraced the two-step flow because it suggests that if they can just find and influence the influentials, those selected people will do most of the work for them. The theory also seems to explain the sudden and unexpected popularity of certain looks, brands, or neighborhoods. In many such cases, a cursory search for causes finds that some small group of people was wearing, promoting, or developing whatever it is before anyone else paid attention. Anecdotal evidence of this kind fits nicely with the idea that only certain special people can drive trends
In their recent work, however, some researchers have come up with the finding that influentials have far less impact on social epidemics than is generally supposed. In fact, they don't seem to be required of all.
The researchers' argument stems from a simple observing about social influence, with the exception of a few celebrities like Oprah Winfrey—whose outsize presence is primarily a function of media, not interpersonal, influence—even the most influential members of a population simply don't interact with that many others. Yet it is precisely these non-celebrity influentials who, according to the two-step-flow theory, are supposed to drive social epidemics by influencing their friends and colleagues directly. For a social epidemic to occur, however, each person so affected, must then influence his or her own acquaintances, who must in turn influence theirs, and so on; and just how many others pay attention to each of these people has little to do with the initial influential. If people in the network just two degrees removed from the initial influential prove resistant, for example from the initial influential prove resistant, for example the cascade of change won't propagate very far or affect many people.
Building on the basic truth about interpersonal influence, the researchers studied the dynamics of populations manipulating a number of variables relating of populations, manipulating a number of variables relating to people's ability to influence others and their tendency to be influenced. Our work shows that the principal requirement for what we call "global cascades"– the widespread propagation of influence through networks – is the presence not of a few influentials but, rather, of a critical mass of easily influenced people, each of whom adopts, say, a look or a brand after being exposed to a single adopting neighbor. Regardless of how influential an individual is locally, he or she can exert global influence only if this critical mass is available to propagate a chain reaction.
31. By citing the book The Tipping Point, the author intends to ______
[A] analyze the consequences of social epidemics
[B] discuss influentials' function in spreading ideas
[C] exemplify people's intuitive response to social epidemics
[D] describe the essential characteristics of influentials.
32. The author suggests that the "two-step-flow theory" ______
[A] serves as a solution to marketing problems
[B] has helped explain certain prevalent trends
[C] has won support from influentials
[D] requires solid evidence for its validity
33. What the researchers have observed recently shows that ______
[A] the power of influence goes with social interactions
[B] interpersonal links can be enhanced through the media
[C] influentials have more channels to reach the public
[D] most celebrities enjoy wide media attention
34. The underlined phrase "these people" in paragraph 4 refers to the ones who ______
[A] stay outside the network of social influence
[B] have little contact with the source of influence
[C] are influenced and then influence others
[D] are influenced by the initial influential
35. what is the essential element in the dynamics of social influence?
[A] The eagerness to be accepted
[B] The impulse to influence others
[C] The readiness to be influenced
[D] The inclination to rely on others
Bankers have been blaming themselves for their troubles in public. Behind the scenes, they have been taking aim at someone else: the accounting standard-setters. Their rules, moan the banks, have forced them to report enormous losses, and it's just not fair. These rules say they must value some assets at the price a third party would pay, not the price managers and regulators would like them to fetch.
Unfortunately, banks' lobbying now seems to be working. The details may be unknowable, but the independence of standard-setters, essential to the proper functioning of capital markets, is being compromised. And, unless banks carry toxic assets at prices that attract buyers, reviving the banking system will be difficult.
After a bruising encounter with Congress, America's Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rushed through rule changes. These gave banks more freedom to use models to value illiquid assets and more flexibility in recognizing losses on long-term assets in their income statement. Bob Herz, the FASB's chairman, cried out against those who "question our motives." Yet bank shares rose and the changes enhance what one lobby group politely calls "the use of judgment by management."
European ministers instantly demanded that the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) do likewise. The IASB says it does not want to act without overall planning, but the pressure to fold when it completes it reconstruction of rules later this year is strong. Charlie McCreevy, a European commissioner, warned the IASB that it did "not live in a political vacuum" but "in the real word" and that Europe could yet develop different rules.
It was banks that were on the wrong planet, with accounts that vastly overvalued assets. Today they argue that market prices overstate losses, because they largely reflect the temporary illiquidity of markets, not the likely extent of bad debts. The truth will not be known for years. But bank's shares trade below their book value, suggesting that investors are skeptical. And dead markets partly reflect the paralysis of banks which will not sell assets for fear of booking losses, yet are reluctant to buy all those supposed bargains.
To get the system working again, losses must be recognized and dealt with. America's new plan to buy up toxic assets will not work unless banks mark assets to levels which buyers find attractive. Successful markets require independent and even combative standard-setters. The FASB and IASB have been exactly that, cleaning up rules on stock options and pensions, for example, against hostility from special interests. But by giving in to critics now they are inviting pressure to make more concessions.
36. Bankers complained that they were forced to ______
[A] follow unfavorable asset evaluation rules
[B] collect payments from third parties
[C] cooperate with the price managers
[D] reevaluate some of their assets.
37. According to the author , the rule changes of the FASB may result in ______
[A] the diminishing role of management
[B] the revival of the banking system
[C] the banks' long-term asset losses
[D] the weakening of its independence
38. According to Paragraph 4, McCreevy objects to the IASB's attempt to ______
[A] keep away from political influences.
[B] evade the pressure from their peers.
[C] act on their own in rule-setting.
[D] take gradual measures in reform.
39. The author thinks the banks were "on the wrong planet" in that they ______
[A] misinterpreted market price indicators
[B] exaggerated the real value of their assets
[C] neglected the likely existence of bad debts.
[D] denied booking losses in their sale of assets.
40. The author's attitude towards standard-setters is one of ______