OMG! Number 3 is shocking!

Clickbait. Why are we prone to click on articles with interesting titles? Psychologists have figured out why our brains are drawn to clickbait. Scroll down for five surprising facts!

1. People like predictability.

Once upon a ____. We can finish this phrase because it’s familiar and predictable. Using constructs and schemas, we can predict the rest of the sentence just by reading the first word. This is called semantic congruity.

2. People are attracted to lists and numbers.

What were you thinking when you clicked on this post? Five things? Not that bad.   When scrolling through endless emails and news headlines, numbers tend to grab our attention, especially odd numbers. When we know how long the post will be, it makes it easier to follow because it eliminates cognitive strain.


3. Clickbait entertains our emotions.

Clickbait titles that include words like shocking, hilarious, terrifying, and OMG manipulate our emotions and entertain our desires, fears, interests, and curiosity.  When we read posts about food, life hacks, weight loss, celebrity gossip, or money, we compare the post to prior knowledge. Most of the time the information in the post is common knowledge, but we’re drawn to learning more.


4. Clickbait offers resolutions.

10 Ways to Lose Weight FAST!  25 Ways to Make Money from Your College Dorm!  Titles grab our attention by offering quick solutions. We set out to eliminate the confusion our problems create in an effort to reach cognitive equilibrium. This is why we tend to choose the first clickbait title that promises an easy fix.

5. Anticipation is key.

How many times have you clicked on a clickbait post? Be honest. Why do we let clickbait articles fool us every time? There’s a reason.  Attention grabbing titles trigger the dopamine neurotransmitter in our brains, responsible for feelings of pleasure and impulsive behavior. We are manipulated into reading posts, anticipating something worth our attention.