In a study of 65,000 headlines, Outbrain found that the average click-through rate on headlines with negative superlatives (e.g., “worst”) was 63% higher than clicks on headlines with positive superlative (“best,” “biggest,” “greatest”).
A few theories why:
- Positive superlatives have become clichéd through overuse.
- Negatives are more intriguing because they’re unexpected and surprising.
- Negatives tap into our insecurities. Using negative words like “stop,” “avoid” and “don’t” work because everyone wants to find out if there’s something they’re doing that they should stop.
8 Successful Headlines—and the Psychology Behind Them [Ragan.com]