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  • Writer's picturelindsayannkohler

Bad News Is Hard To Resist: Use It To Your Advantage

This post originally appeared on Forbes on April 12, 2023.

A recent study published in Nature Human Behaviour found that negative news headlines drive more engagement than positive headlines. Each additional negative word in a headline increased clicks by 2.3%. That increase may seem small, but on a large enough scale it can have an outsized impact on increasing your content's reach.

Researchers conducted a staggering 22,743 experiments on news stories on Upworthy, equating to looking at more than 105,000 headlines. In other words — they looked at a lot of content.

It's well-researched that the lure of the negative is stronger for people than the promise of something positive. One of behavioral science's more well-known principles of loss aversion is a prime example of this. Loss aversion shows that the pain of losing something we already have is twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining something new.

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