I love this song! I FEEEL SAD WHEN YOU’RE SAD / I FEEL GLAD WHEN YOU’RRE GLAD. But wait: isn’t that what that Facebook experiment found? Or at least “I express sad when you express sad / I express glad when you express glad”?
Now consider now a statement from one of the authors of the Facebook study: “we found the exact opposite to what was then the conventional wisdom: Seeing a certain kind of emotion (positive) encourages it rather than suppresses is.”
Wait, what? How do we get to a world where conventional wisdom would say that seeing the display of an emotion suppresses expressing an emotion rather than encourages it? Has conventional wisdom never been to a karaoke bar?
It’s a common cycle in behavioral science: commonsense to counterintuition and back again.
First, you have the commonsense idea. Then, because fields like psychology and sociology are forever having to explain how they are not just common sense, you get the embrace of some “everybody thinks it’s like this, but it’s really like this” finding. That, in turn, opens the door for another person to come along later and present themselves as upsetting an academic apple cart when really they’re finding what person-on-the-street would have predicted in the first place.