What does snowball effect

Snowball effect

The Snowball effect describes literally escalating chain reactions, mostly in the social area. The term is derived from the rolling and growing snowball, which can possibly take on avalanche dimensions in the mountains. So z. B. a crooked look at the argument and this grows into a mass brawl. Classically, the metaphor describes the spread of a rumor. The chain letter and the fraudulent pyramid scheme also make use of the snowball effect.


  • In contrast to the domino effect, the snowball effect has an increasing intensity. This means that the snowball effect increases over time. The domino effect, on the other hand, is usually about events of the same or similar intensity that result from one another.
  • In contrast to the snowball effect, in which small effects amplify themselves linearly or exponentially via a chain reaction and thus specify at least a rough direction, the butterfly effect describes the complete and unpredictable change of an entire system through a small change in the initial conditions. Self-reinforcing effects also play a role here, but the small change can completely reverse the direction of the system. In addition, the concept of the butterfly effect is not applied in a social context, but mostly to dynamic physical processes.
  • In cryptography, the avalanche effect is the property of an algorithm (e.g. a block cipher or hash function) to generate a completely different output with a minimal change in the input. Behind this is formally the information-theoretical requirement that if there is a change one Input bits eachBit of the output must change with a probability of 50%. Despite the etymological proximity to the Snowballeffect and the definitions that at first glance seem to be "overlapping" are both terms Not to synonyms.

Other social effects