A positive feedback loop is a situation where an initial change or input (A) leads to a further change or output (B), which in turn reinforces or amplifies the initial change (A). This creates a reinforcing loop that can lead to increasingly extreme outcomes.
While the term “positive feedback loop” may suggest a positive outcome, these loops can actually have either positive or negative impacts, depending on the specific circumstances. For example, a positive feedback loop can lead to a virtuous cycle of increasing success, or it can lead to a downward spiral of failure.
Some examples of positive feedback loops include:
- A stock market bubble, where rising prices lead to increased demand, which in turn drives prices even higher
- A self-fulfilling prophecy, where a belief or expectation leads to behavior that confirms the belief, reinforcing the original expectation
- A social media echo chamber, where the algorithms that curate content for an individual user lead to an increasingly narrow range of viewpoints being presented, reinforcing the user’s existing biases and beliefs.
Overall, positive feedback loops can have significant impacts on systems, and it is important to understand and manage them in order to avoid unintended consequences.