The term “epidemic” is typically used in relation to an outbreak — think flu or the Zika virus — and rarely associated with positivity. However, the term simply means "something that spreads fast." So, what if the term could be rightfully used to describe a positive sentiment? Good news: It can. According to researchers at New Mexico’s Santa Fe Institute, positive "epidemics" actually spread faster than negative ones.
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Positive vs. Negative Epidemics
A number of positive epidemics can be pinpointed throughout history, like with the decline of cigarette smoking in the US, and increase in various diet trends around the world in recent years. Shifts like these show that positive epidemics are capable of affecting many more hosts than a negative one, in a much shorter amount of time.
In terms of practicality, this sentiment actually makes a lot of sense. Imagine you’ve just come across a cool new way to simplify and revitalize your life (such as these 7 life hacks for waking up easier). The first thing you’ll want to do is spread the news. The life hack multiples in its effect and the number of hosts it touches. A negative epidemic, however, like a disease inspires battle and resistance from the general public. The same type of outward spread can be tracked with the use of positive and negative words.
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Santa Fe Institute researchers used Google's Ngram Corpus to track the popularity of certain beneficial words over time. They found that when a word is highly useful and beneficial to society, its usage spreads very quickly. Terms such as "personal computer" became widely used after they were invented, popularity increasing exponentially with the past decade’s technological advancements.
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People half-literally say that positivity is contagious, but with these findings, the sentiment actually proves itself to not only be figuratively, but literally true.
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Do you spread positivity in your community? Tell us how in the comment section below!