vicious cycle

(redirected from Virtuous circle and vicious circle)
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vicious cycle

any situation in which an action (e.g. an attempt to resolve a social problem) tends to bring about a further reaction which offsets any gain brought about by the initial action, perhaps tending to bring a return to the state which led to the initial action or exacerbating the initial problem, e.g. an inflationary spiral in which incomes and prices chase each other, and where attempts to control inflation by increased taxation in themselves increase prices. In contrast, a virtuous cycle exists where an action to effect an outcome automatically leads to further outcomes which assist in the achieving of this outcome.