Viral ice buckets: A memetic perspective on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge's diffusion

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Abstract

This paper presents an exploratory memetic perspective on the diffusion pattern of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. More precisely, the paper contributes to research on social learning, cultural evolution, and social contagion by shedding light on endogenous (meme-related) as well as exogenous (structural) properties that may have influenced the Ice Bucket Challenge's diffusion. In a first pillar, we present a descriptive memetic analysis of the diffusion pattern, including an evaluation of the Ice Bucket Challenge according to memetic criteria for successful replication. In the second pillar, we present an agent-based simulation model designed to illuminate the influence of particular social network characteristics on the Ice Bucket Challenge's diffusion. By combining these two pillars, we contribute to the advancement of memetic theory, narrowing the gap between a solely meme-centered perspective and social network analysis.

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Schlaile, M. P., Knausberg, T., Mueller, M., & Zeman, J. (2018). Viral ice buckets: A memetic perspective on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’s diffusion. Cognitive Systems Research, 52, 947–969. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogsys.2018.09.012

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