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9 reasons why we're obsessed with lists on the Internet

9 reasons why we're obsessed with lists on the Internet
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

Have you ever wondered why so many articles in newspapers, websites and blogs are lists? Maybe you love them, maybe you're fed up with them, but you can't deny they're everywhere! I have a lot of lists on my site, and I always get great feedback about them. People read them and share them and leave really nice comments! (I always read the comments!)

It turns out there are some very good psychological reasons why human beings like lists. Plenty of studies have been done on why people prefer what they prefer - including lists. I stumbled across a fascinating article on the BBC by a columnist named Claudia Hammond. In it, she outlines (go figure) the nine psychological reasons we like looking at lists on the Internet.

I'll outline all nine of her reasons, but I highly recommend you check out her full article. You can find a link to it at the bottom of my post where I list the source.

1. You know exactly what you're getting

Lists are very predictable. The title tells you everything you're about to read - even exactly how long it's going to be! It's all thanks to a psychological principle called "schemata." Knowing what to expect makes it easier to understand what you're reading.

2. You HATE to miss out

There's a popular slang phrase online called "FOMO." It stands for the "fear of missing out." We all have it! Humans have built-in "loss aversion" in our brains. If you don't read the list, it can sometimes feel like you've lost out on the knowledge you could have had just by reading it.

3. Lists FEEL easier to read

Studies show that using the Web is an exercise in multitasking. There's so much to look at and to do on any given Web page. Lists, with brief and bite-sized chunks of info, can relieve some of that pressure on the brain.

Next page: Read the rest of the reasons
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