Most questions I ask myself start with the word why. These are the type of questions that slowly get me from being just curious to being mildly annoyed because I can’t figure out the answer. Earlier this week I binge-watched the entire first season of the Netflix original series Stranger Things in a couple of days, and started to wonder why people actually do that. You could just say ‘well, they enjoy it’ and shove the entirely pointless question to the side, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. So even though I feel like there is no real reason for me to find out about this aside from plain curiosity, I am going to try to find an answer. Engage analysis mode.
Yesterday I had a conversation with my mother and sister about being introverted or extraverted. I’ve actually thought about my own personality with regards to this trait a lot while studying psychology, because I feel like it changes depending on the day. I have taken simple online tests a few times and generally my score ends up somewhere near the middle – today I scored 59 on a scale of 100 (click here for test I used today). This would mean that today I’m slightly more extraverted than introverted, but if I had filled out the questions about which I wasn’t completely sure differently I may well have ended on the other side of the scale. Does this mean I am a so-called ambivert? Or does the way we explain this trait just not cover all possibilities, even though we see it as a continuum?
One of the best things about studying behavioural change is that it taught me how to influence my own behaviour as well. I’m not really susceptible to cheap tricks and such, mostly because I can recognise and arm myself against them, but some methods actually work. I started using one of those methods a while ago to plan things, and since then it has become a habit: I don’t really think about it anymore, I just do it. Today I’d like to talk about this strategy and why it works so well.
Clickbait. One of the most annoying thing we often have to deal with, at least if you realise what it really is. Merriam-Webster defines clickbait as “online material (such as headlines) designed to make readers want to click on hyperlinks especially when the links lead to content of dubious value or interest”. Like this the websites generate a lot of ad revenue, especially if people stay and read another article or two where new ads will be shown.
We generally see these headlines in forms such as “You won’t believe what happened next” or “We’ve been doing this wrong for years” or “15 reasons you should (…)”. All equally infuriating because we know the article is not going to be very interesting, but we still feel the need to click. But why do we? A lot of people have tried to explain why clickbait works, but although they do name some good reasons I feel like none of them really gets to the point of how these reasons actually convince us to click. So that’s what I’ll try to do here.