Mass sentiment propels mass actions. Such actions shape society and popular culture. Socionomics provides a unified social field theory in which social mood is the force field of aggregate social behavior.
Social mood is patterned; it follows it's own inexorable path. Fortunately, the form of this recurring pattern has been discovered. In essence, an important social DNA code has been cracked. Just as cellular DNA provides the genetic blueprint for the physical characteristics of living organisms, the pattern of social mood provides a blueprint for the direction and character of sociocultural trends.
Although social mood affects people beneath their conscious awareness, it has far-reaching effects that are observable. The Scottish economist Adam Smith famously wrote about the invisible hand that emerges from the collective actions of individuals and regulates markets by automatically channeling self-interest. Social mood is an invisible hand with a much broader sweep, affecting many collective enterprises. The mood of one individual may be insignificant in the larger scheme of things. But the collective mood of millions of people creates the breeding ground from which social trends and consequential events are born. An angry individual, for example, cannot credibly invade another country. An angry nation, on the other hand, can go to war.
Everyone can benefit from greater knowledge about mass sentiment. In his book, The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Cooper Ramo draws upon complexity theory and the science of chaos to shed light on political and economic issues. He recommends leaders should focus more on context than reductive answers when analyzing problems.
Social mood is one of the most important aspects of societal context. For example, how different history might have been if defense analysts and White House policy makers had known that they and the nation were in the grip of severe negative social mood during the major bear market of 2001-2002 and that people are more fearful, angry, and inclined to go to war during such mood cycles. Would the U.S. still have invaded Iraq in 2002 on the basis of flimsy and, as later revealed, inaccurate evidence of weapons of mass destruction? We may never know, but one can hope that policy makers will someday broaden their perspective by viewing events in the context of social mood cycles that may influence their decisions as well as the actions of allies and enemies.
Social mood is powerful, pervasive, and persistent. It affects all collective behavior and is operating all the time. Knowledge of social mood helps one make sense of confusing news headlines and conflicting media perspectives. Understanding social mood helps us cope with its effects. And by preparing for changes in social mood we can prevent some of the adverse impacts of negative mood and proactively take advantage of positive mood cycles. We can more clearly see the true nature of our collective social environment.