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Opponents overcall our strong 2 opening - bidding theory question

Suppose partner opens 2 and next hand bids 2

It’s a very common agreement to play double as a weak hand and pass as at least a (semi-) positive without a good suit to bid. 

Compare that to the approach where pass is a bad hand (or a big penalty double) and double shows values. This appears to far less frequently played. 

My question is why?  What is the theoretical basis for this, or is it just history/habit?

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