A fad is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior's being perceived as novel in some way. 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 had been a major fad when a journalist coined it as a portmanteau between "beat" and "sputnik". However, it faded away as its original proponents abandoned the underlying attitudes which were supposed to go along with it. 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.
See also 
- Bandwagon effect
- List of Internet phenomena
- Memetics, which posits that ideas are subject to evolutionary pressure analogous to that in population genetics
- Peer pressure
- Social mania
- 15 minutes of fame
- Kornblum (2007), p. 213.
- Domanski (2004), p. 147–159.
- Arena (2001), p. 341.
- Issitt (2009), p. 3.
- Camerer (1989).
- Arena, Barbara (2001). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Money with Your Hobby. Alpha. ISBN 978-0-02-863825-6.
- Domanski, Andrzej (2004). "Collective fascinations (fads) and the idea of ephemeral culture". Kultura i spoleczenstwo (Culture and society) 48 (4). (review/summary)
- Issitt, Micah L. (2009). Hippies: A Guide to an American Subculture. Greenwood. ISBN 978-0-313-36572-0.
- Kornblum, William (2007). Sociology in a Changing World (8th ed.). Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN 978-0-495-09635-1.
- Sparks, Jared; Everett, Edward; Lowell, James Russell; Lodge, Henry Cabot (1899). The North American review 168. New York: North American Review Publishing Co.
- Camerer, Colin (1989). "Bubbles and Fads in Asset Prices". Journal of Economic Surveys 3 (1).
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