Optimism invites optimism
- One way to explain this idea is with systems theories and the idea of feedback.
- In systems thinking, many self-regulatory processes operate with what is called negative feedback.
- In a negative feedback system, whenever a given trend increases, compensatory processes automatically act to reduce it.
- If it reduces too much then these same processes serve to brings it back to an optimum position.
- A simple example is the thermostat. (See article on wisdom and the thermostat).
- By contrast, positive feedback works to augment a given trend.
- Therefore, when positive feedback occurs there is usually a 'runaway' or 'avalanche' effect.
- Optimism is often part of this positive feedback process that spreads itself within a given group of people.
- We may therefore think of it as 'contagious'.
- Pessimism is also 'contagious', but it usually has fewer helpful outcomes.
- Utlimately, this process can build trust...and in extremis...unconditional love