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A fad is any form of behaviour that develops amongst a large population and is collectively followed enthusiastically for a period of time, generally as a result of the behaviour being perceived as popular by one's peers or being deemed "cool" by social media. A fad is said to "catch on" when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone.
The specific nature of the behavior associated with a fad can be of any type including language usage, apparel, financial investment, and even food. Apart from general novelty, fads may be driven by mass media programming, emotional excitement, peer pressure, or the desire of "being hip".
Though the term trend may be used interchangeably with fad, a fad is generally considered a fleeting behavior whereas a trend is considered to be a behavior that evolves into a relatively permanent change.
In the late 1950s, the word beatnik was a major fad after it was coined as a portmanteau between "beat" and "Sputnik". The word faded away, though, as the beatniks abandoned the underlying attitudes that were supposed to go along with their lifestyle. Though this fad, in and of itself, was short-lived, it is credited with giving birth to the Hippie movement in the following decade and with inspiring other social trends in the decades that followed.
In economics, the term is used in a similar way. Fads are mean-reverting deviations from intrinsic value caused by social or psychological forces like those that cause fashions in political beliefs or consumption goods.
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