A few months back we wrote a commentary on a recently published paper by ‘Happiness Lady’ that looked like total BS.
Nick Brown is one of the warriors, who joined Alan Sokal and Friedman to call the BS in another highly cited paper by Frederickson.
Fredrickson and Losadas paper was a huge hit. It became a go-to reference in the literature on positivity and garnered almost 1,000 citations in less than a decadethe academic equivalent of a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. Fredrickson parlayed that success into Positivity, the 2009 mass-market book mentioned above, which makes a big deal about the 31 ratio vindicated by Losadas sexy math.
Except Losadas sexy math is totally incompetent.
Thats the upshot of the scathing paper by Brown, Sokal, and Friedman. Losada had recorded the chatter of teams of business professionals collaborating on projects, and researchers later coded the speech acts of team members as either positive or negative. They also assessed the performance of those teams along certain metrics. Putting the two together, Losada found that teams with a 2.90131 ratio of positive to negative comments performed much better than those with only slightly lower ratios. However, as Brown, Sokal, and Friedman explain, Losadas data are flat out the wrong kind to plug into differential equations, and Losadas attempt to do so produced not a breakthrough about the nonlinear, tipping-point dynamics of positivity, but complete gibberish.
It is a sad reflection of contemporary academia that Nick Brown barely completed his MSc at age over 50 -
while Frederickson continues to offer her ‘science-backed’ Love 2.0 classes as “Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill” at a cost of $395/person ‘by recording’ !!!!