Social Mood Conference | Socionomics Foundation
This essay by Robert R. Prechter, Jr. originally appeared in The Elliott Wave Theorist in July 2002. Its citation is:

Prechter, Robert R. (2003). Pioneering Studies in Socionomics. Gainesville, Georgia: New Classics Library, pp. 311-316 (Note: The book is also available for purchase as part of a two-volume set.)

Chapter 3 of The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior (1999) proposed the following hypothesis:

Are nature’s developing waves, branching arbora [i.e., trees] and expanding spirals all the same thing? Figures 1, 2 and 3 express the Fibonacci sequence in three different ways: as atree, a spiral and a wave…. Natural processes express this cross-representational property as well. For example, evolution is a process that makes waves, spirals and arbora…. This transformation property may cover other types of fractals as well. For example, a topographic fractal (mountains, hills, hillocks, etc.) [is] also an arborum when water, snow or flowers fill the cracks…. It is also true that price trends can be graphed in such a way as to reveal not a line but a spiral…. All these pictures resemble many natural expressions of growth and expansion [or recession and decay], from life forms to galaxies. In terms of their essence, then, there may be little difference among nature’s progressing forms. The only difference may be the template upon which nature projects them.1

The Fibonacci sequence as a tree – Figure 1

The Fibonacci sequence as a spiral – Figure 2

The Fibonacci sequence as a wave – Figure 3

The work of a scientist in the field of fractal geometry has allowed us to view another example of this idea. Benoit Mandelbrot’s latest book, Gaussian Self-Affinity and Fractals (2002) presents an illustration of a highly stylized tree, “a Peano motion in the plane.” The illustration may be conceived of as “rivers that flow into the black ‘sea'” or as trees with “new layer[s] of shorter branches,” which you can see in Figure 4. This is a simple stylized arborum (branching fractal).

The more interesting depiction is Figure 5, which displays “the graph of the limit curve,” i.e., “the X(t)coordinate function of the Peano motion”2 in Figure 4. The fact that the tree in Figure 4 can be shown as a wave in Figure 5 supports the observation quoted above from The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior.

The arborum in Figure 4, plotted as a wave


Figure 4

Figure 5

Nearly an Elliott Wave
The details of the result are even more fascinating to a trained eye because as detailed in Figure 6, the self-affine fractal in Figure 5 reflects the 5-3 form of net progress described by R.N. Elliott’s Wave Principle. It follows Elliott’s observations of market behavior even to the point of including alternation (see Elliott Wave Principle, pp. 61-63) between waves two and four. This stylized tree, then, does not reflect an indiscriminate line fractal but something extremely close to an ideal Elliott wave.

The pattern’s detail is interesting. Corrections bottom at the level of the preceding wave four, as under the Wave Principle. With respect to alternation, it sports a short-long declining pattern in the “wave 2” position and a long-short pattern in the “wave 4” position.

There are two main variations from the rules of Elliott wave construction. The first is that wave four in this pattern continually falls to the level of the peak of wave one, which never happens in financial markets. Secondly, what should be wave C under the Wave Principle alternately subdivides into three waves instead of five. (I have labeled this construction “N” in Figure 6.) There are other variations in terms of guidelines. For example, in Figure 6, all advancing subwaves are the same length, which does not typically occur in financial markets or in Elliott’s model, which reflects reality.

The arborum in Figure 4, labeled in Elliott


Figure 6

The Expanded Hypothesis
Since plotting an aspect of a stylized tree produces a stylized Elliott wave, we may reiterate the suspicion that plotting aspects of robust fractals in the form of arbora in nature is likely to produce robust fractals called Elliott waves, with all the natural order and variation that we have come to know from their expressions in financial markets. They should have this property because arbora and Elliott waves both depict aspects of natural growth patterns. Indeed, as shown in The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior, they can depict the same natural growth patterns, such as the number of families of fauna produced through evolution.

The spiral implied by the arborum in Figure 4
The spiral implied by the wave in Figure 5


Figure 7

Figure 8

Both the stylized tree in Figure 4 and the stylized advancing wave in Figure 5 may be circumscribed with spirals, as shown in Figures 7 and 8. (See also Figures 2-29 and 3-14 in The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior.) Thus, once again, we have expressions of all three of nature’s primary growth forms in a single process.3


1 Prechter, Robert R. (1999). The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior and the New Science of Socionomics. Gainesville , GA : New Classics Library, pp. 75-82. For the ease of the reader, one-letter brackets have been omitted.

2 Mandelbrot, Benoit B. (2002). Gaussian Self-Affinity and Fractals. New York : Springer. Note: As the author explains, the illustration in Figure 4 exaggerates one-dimensional branches into two-dimensional ones for effective visual illustration.

3 Scientists are getting so close to the Wave Principle that they are within smelling distance of it. An educated nose would prove a useful resource. Ironically, Mandelbrot’s aloofness with respect to Elliott’s model has provided an opportunity for a wave practitioner to make an observation that otherwise he could have made.

Socionomics InstituteThe Socionomist is a monthly online magazine designed to help readers see and capitalize on the waves of social mood that contantly occur throughout the world. It is published by the Socionomics Institute, Robert R. Prechter, president; Matt Lampert, editor-in-chief; Alyssa Hayden, editor; Alan Hall and Chuck Thompson, staff writers; Dave Allman and Pete Kendall, editorial direction; Chuck Thompson, production; Ben Hall, proofreader.

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Most economists, historians and sociologists presume that events determine society’s mood. But socionomics hypothesizes the opposite: that social mood regulates the character of social events. The events of history—such as investment booms and busts, political events, macroeconomic trends and even peace and war—are the products of a naturally occurring pattern of social-mood fluctuation. Such events, therefore, are not randomly distributed, as is commonly believed, but are in fact probabilistically predictable. Socionomics also posits that the stock market is the best available meter of a society’s aggregate mood, that news is irrelevant to social mood, and that financial and economic decision-making are fundamentally different in that financial decisions are motivated by the herding impulse while economic choices are guided by supply and demand. For more information about socionomic theory, see (1) the text, The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior © 1999, by Robert Prechter; (2) the introductory documentary History's Hidden Engine; (3) the video Toward a New Science of Social Prediction, Prechter’s 2004 speech before the London School of Economics in which he presents evidence to support his socionomic hypothesis; and (4) the Socionomics Institute’s website, At no time will the Socionomics Institute make specific recommendations about a course of action for any specific person, and at no time may a reader, caller or viewer be justified in inferring that any such advice is intended.

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