Success Really Breeds Success

What’s the easiest way to get a job offer? Already have a job. The same thing is true of girlfriends too. We call it success breeding success—but is there something to that?

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has found that a little success, even if arbitrary, can mean more success down the road. Researchers proved this in a series of online experiments.

In the first, researchers donated some funding to 100 random, completely unfunded projects on Kickstarter. 70% of those projects received future donations—whereas only 39% of the projects researchers passed over received funding.

In the second experiment, researchers headed over to epinions, which pays for customer reviews based on user rating how helpful said reviews are. Again, researchers rated some unrated reviews as helpful and passed over others. Two weeks later, 90% of the reviews that researchers had endorse received additional endorsements, versus only 77% of those researchers skipped over.

In the third test, a random group of top Wikipedia editors were given a status award. After five months of observation, 31% of editors without the initial award had also earned one. However, 40% of those given the initial arbitrary status award received at least one more award.

In the fourth test, researchers looked at petitions on and put a dozen signatures on 100 early-stage petitions chosen at random and skipped a further hundred. Of those they passed over, 52% received an additional signature, but so did 66% of those favoured by the researchers.

Researchers also carried out a further test, doing each experiment again, but this time increasing the amount of support. However, doubling the money in the Kickstarter experiment, for example, did not lead to double the amount of success. According to author Dr. Soong Moon Kang, “These don’t need to be big or costly to help: it’s the initial boost that matters. We also find that interventions have much more effect on those coming from very little.”

This is a test