There was an interesting piece in The New York Times by David Carr yesterday about the barrage of bad news about the economy coming our way from a variety of sources — e-mail, marquees, news headlines, RSS feeds, instant messages from friends who’ve been laid off.

Carr talked to a local scholar of political science and behavioral economics:

There is a kind of emotional contagion afoot. James H. Fowler, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, recently co-wrote a study looking at how happiness can be spread among friends. The opposite is true as well.

“There are studies on bank runs, and it shows that people who know others who have taken their money out of the bank are much more likely to do it as well,” he said. “We always overshoot the upside and, because of the same contagious effects, we overshoot the downside. Everything is fine, and then all of the sudden we are looking for water and supplies to ride out the coming storm.”

Fowler is the same guy who coined the “Colbert bump,” the boost experienced by political candidates after they appear on Stephen Colbert’s show on Comedy Central. My former colleague Bethany Leach did a Q&A with him earlier this year. The New York Times also fleshed out his recent study in a story last week.

KELLY BENNETT

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