5 Reasons Why We Love Lists
This post is a sort-of followup to a previous post “Why I love, hate, love, hate, love, hate clickbait.” Enjoy (your brain is telling you that you will).
1. They organize
Lists perfectly feed our minds. We’re wired to make sense of new information, to put it into context — such and such is better/stronger/what-have-you than that. A good list strips the chaff, and leaves tasty wheat morsels we can readily store in our mental cupboard.
2. They’re visual
We’re visually driven creatures, much more likely to remember what we’re shown than told; hence the use of visual aids and similes to spice up dry language. We’ve all made lists. We know what they look like. They connect with brain centers that process images as well as words.
3. They entice
Studies show that lists are effective attention grabbers. Prescriptive lists — ‘how to’s’ — are particularity effective. We want to be better; we just don’t want to work too hard for it. Lists that promise distinct remedies to relatable challenges rope us like cattle, dangling the twin carrots of real benefit for minimal effort.
4. They engage
Lists invite us to play along. When proffered with a listing of particular (if often salacious) interest, we instinctively begin to guess what or who they might be. What are the eight biggest interview mistakes? Who are the eleven worst tippers in Hollywood? Ready…go!
5. They reward
From David Letterman’s Top Ten to the AP Top 25 to the Billboard Hot 100 to the Forbes 400 to the Fortune 500, lists offer a quick and easy diversion. We can devour them whole, or bite off just enough to satisfy a fleeting interest. Lists don’t ask for much time or contemplation. They usually deliver exactly the value they promise, and occasionally a penny or two more.