On the use of differential equations

The complex dynamics of wishful thinking: The critical positivity ratio

We examine critically the claims made by Fredrickson and Losada (2005) concerning the construct known as the “positivity ratio”. We find no theoretical or empirical justification for the use of differential equations drawn from fluid dynamics, a subfield of physics, to describe changes in human emotions over time; furthermore, we demonstrate that the purported application of these equations contains numerous fundamental conceptual and mathematical errors. The lack of relevance of these equations and their incorrect application lead us to conclude that Fredrickson and Losada’s claim to have demonstrated the existence of a critical minimum positivity ratio of 2.9013 is entirely unfounded. More generally, we urge future researchers to exercise caution in the use of advanced mathematical tools such as nonlinear dynamics and in particular to verify that the elementary conditions for their valid application have been met.


About Artem Novozhilov

I am an applied mathematician interested in studying various evolutionary processes by means of mathematical models. More on my professional activities can be found on my page https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~novozhil/
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