Why negative headlines work better

Why negative headlines work better

Whether we like it or not, most of us remember the bad better (unpleasant conversation, our own mistakes, traumatic experience) and keep it in our memory longer. In addition, we:

• we pay more attention to criticism than to praise or neutral statements addressed to us;
• react more sharply to negative stimuli;
• more willing to read bad news and comments to them;
• we react more actively when something bad happens;
• we remember the insult inflicted on us more vividly than gratitude or praise.

This cognitive distortion formed millions of years ago and initially helped us survive. Now the probability of encountering a wild beast is zero, but we are still vigilant.

More bad news – more clicks

Of course, we would all like to learn something good every day – especially now that everything is so unstable and shaky. View photos of puppies and children, admire the shots of the most beautiful parts of the world. But our brains are programmed to look for bad news, and the media is actively using it to increase traffic. That is why the vast majority of notes and articles they publish are about something bad, unpleasant, sad, scary, and shocking.

From time to time, attempts are made to create a media that would tell only about something good, but, as a rule, no one reads such media. One news portal published only good news in one day and lost two-thirds of its audience!

Andrew B. Newberg and Mark R. Waldman, authors of “Words That Can Change Your Consciousness,” believe that positive and negative words affect our brains differently. The words “love” and “peace”, for example, stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for motivation, while negative words increase the level of stress hormone.

Pure curiosity

Most of us tend to analyze information and make judgments. And because the brain, as already mentioned, habitually supplies us with bad news, they find in us a lively response. We are interested to know what is happening. We like to draw conclusions about others. We are interested to understand why a person did so and not otherwise. All this gives our brain food for thought. Take the same Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones – what moved her? Is it that she lost her children? Did she really love anyone but herself? We love heroes, but villains attract us with their unpredictability. And yes, negative headlines work better – marketers and newcomers know this for sure.

The audience needs to be touched, touched alive. But what to do with all the information to us, the readers? Remember this and do not fall for this bait. And do not let unnecessary negativity into your life.

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