Do Readers Prefer Negative Posts Over Positive Ones?

Posted: April 4, 2013 in Blogging
Tags: , , , , ,

Positive NegativeI realized something yesterday regarding the types of blog posts that gain the most views.  When there are pairs of posts on related topics with one having a more positive title and one more negative, the one with the more negative title gets more views.

Here are the numbers for two pairs of posts published in the last couple of months:

From early February, the post about The Worst Mistakes I’ve Made As An Employee has had 942 views, while The Best Behaviors I’ve Shown As An Employee has only received 296 views – less than one-third the number of the one about worst mistakes.  Then last week I published What I Appreciate Most in Coworkers which has received 175 views in a week, while yesterday’s What Annoys Me the Most About Coworkers has received 217 views in one day.

I’m not sure what to make of those numbers.  Are the posts with the more negative sounding titles more sensational?  Do they sound juicier?  Are we drawn to posts that point out the faults of others in order to feel better about ourselves? Or did these two just happen to strike a chord with readers and fellow workers?  The content itself in the more popular posts is not presented from a negative point of view since that isn’t how I think, live or write.  They just tell an honest story or make honest observations about negative behaviors.

What do you think?  Why would a post about my worst mistakes get more than three times the views of a post on things I’ve done well?  Why would a post about annoying coworker behavior get more views in one day than a post about behaviors I appreciate gets in a week?

Comments
  1. Jacob Evans says:

    We’re hard-wired to pay attention to negativity. There’s something to be learnt or that needs attention. That’s why the news is so negative. It’s what we naturally respond to. It’s a really interesting topic, if you’re curious you should have a google of framing and negativity, there’s some great research out there.

  2. Chuck says:

    VERY interesting. You might be on to something with the sensational thing.

  3. indytony says:

    Interesting question. Consider this – how many commandments (beyond the top 10) from God are positive and how many negative?

    One other thought – it is actually easier to follow negative advice – to avoid doing a particular thing (Do not commit adultery) than to follow positive advice (Love thy neighbor).

  4. I tend to perceive people like to look at the negative headliners so they can feel better about themselves or find out if someone else also has the same perks as they do.

    This is way reality TV is huge. People like to watch so they can judge the “actors” make their mistakes and stupid decisions. This way I can say to myself, “I’m not that bad…I’m much better than that”.

    On the other scenario, I may have a lot of pet peeves about certain behaviors or actions of others, I would like to know who has the same issues. In the end, this is a variation of the first scenario. I still need to make sure I’m in the right.

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