Remember the Losada Ratio of 2.9013 if You Want to be Happy

2.9013 is the minimum ratio of positive to negative emotions we need to have in our lives to be positive, happy, and flourishing. This number is also called the Losada Ratio, Losada Line, 3-to-1 Ratio, or the Critical Positivity Ratio. It was calculated by Psychologists Marcial Losada and Barbara Fredrickson in their widely cited 2005 paper called Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing, published in American Psychologist [1].

How 2.9013 Will Change Your Life?

Everyday, we experience positive and negative emotions due to our environment sending us positive or negative stimulations. This is normal, and we can’t really do anything about it. However, we can control how we react to these stimuli, achieving almost full control over our emotional well-being and, therefore, happiness, but this is a different story. 

Still, on average, if the number of positive to negative emotions exceeds 2.9013, then Losada and Fredrickson claim that we will be positive and flourishing. Oppositely, if we experience less than 2.9013 positive emotions, then this is why we are unhappy and languishing.

Of course, 2.9013 is a minimal amount of positive emotions we need to have for every negative emotion to feel happy and flourishing. Instead, we should aim at having as much as 11.6346 positive emotions for every negative emotion, as this will pretty much guarantee to be really sure that we are happy and flourishing. 

Image shows a 3-to-1 ratio, also known as Losada Ratio or Losada Line. It is a minimum mathematical ratio of positive to negative emotions we need to be positive, happy, and flourishing. I was proposed by psychologists Marcial Losada and Barbara Fredrickson.

Why Losada Ratio is so Significant?

The significance of the Losada Ratio can’t be overstated. It is a mathematical model that explains why we feel happy and unhappy in an easy and logical way. For example, we know that the corporate world can be quite negative and stressful. At work, people are often overwhelmed, overworked, and pressured by deadlines. This, in turn, means that they receive more criticism and negative feedback than positive feedback, tilting the positive to negative Losada Ratio under the 2.9013 mark.

This, in turn, explains why so many people often feel so negative and dissatisfied with their jobs. To fix this, employers should give significantly increase amount of the positive feedback, reduce work related stress, specially that which can be avoided, and create overall a more positive work environment, in order to push Losada Line over 2.9013. 

Similarly, in every other part of our lives, we should be more agreeable and positive to other human beings. It is too easy to find things to be critical, negative, and complain about (which is often called negativity bias). However, despite this ease, we should try to be more positive than negative. We should be friendly, complement, and try to find positives even in the worst situations. After all, we are trying to create at least three to eleven positive emotions for every negative one.

Criticism to Losada Ratio

To oppose everything stated above, Nicholas Brown, Alan Sokal, and Harris Friedman published a 2013 article also in American Psychologist [2]. They said that Losada’s paper contained “numerous fundamental conceptual and mathematical errors.” To oppose this attack, Raimo Hämäläinen, Jukka Luoma, and Esa Saarinen stated that there were no fundamental errors in the mathematics itself, but instead there were numerous problems in the interpretation and justification of the math used [3].

Together, these findings offset the validity of the 2.9013 to 11.6346 Losada Line, meaning that the truth might be elsewhere. 

Why We Should Still Believe in 2.9013 Losada Ratio?

Despite the above criticism, scholars and coaches around the world still believe in Losada Ratio, perhaps not on purely scientific level, but because it makes sense. This is just a common sense. Having more positive emotions than the negative ones will make us happier and other way around. We need to make this extra effort simply because negative emotions are still very easy to come by. As such, we should avoid unnecessary negativity and force ourselves to find more joy in everyday moment, sharing this positive energy with other people, in order to make our life and work more manageable and enjoyable.

Sure, it’s true that we want to be as scientific as possible when it come to our everyday life, simply because there is so much misinformation spread by politics and media to promote self-interest, and science seems to be that one last place where we don’t just have to take our word for it, as data does not lie. Still, since Losada Line has so much to offer in terms of positive advice and it is generally pointing at the right direction. As such, we genuinely propose people to still try to have 2.9013 or more positive emotions for every negative one, since if you are having so much positivity, you will certainly will be happy, positive, and flourishing.


Sources:

1) Marcial, Losada and Fredrickson, Barbara (2005), “Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing.” American Psychologist, 60 (7), 678–86. 

2) Brown, Nicholas; Sokal, Alan and Friedman Harris (2013), “The complex dynamics of wishful thinking: the critical positivity ratio.” American Psychologist, 68 (9), 801–13. 

3) Hämäläinen, Raimo; Luoma, Jukka; and Saarinen, Esa (2014), “Mathematical modeling is more than fitting equations.”

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