The Truth About Clickbait

How it works and what you can learn from it

George J. Ziogas
5 min readJul 15, 2020


Image by MclittleStock on Adobe Stock

Have you ever looked at a headline and immediately recognized it as clickbait only to click on it anyway? Join the club. There’s a reason that clickbait works… it speaks to our curiosity. It doesn’t matter how blatant it is, there’s something about our need to know that triggers our click.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, to be honest. According to Psychology Today, we’re primed to fall for clickbait. Within the article, they site the definition as per Merriam-Webster, as “something designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.”

We know it, we recognize it, and we fall for it anyway. Why is that?

According to the article above, it’s because we value information, we seek it out, and the promise of that information is enough to compel us to click, even when we know we’re being had. How frustrating of our brains to allow it!

How Clickbait Works

Clickbait preys on your emotions

You might think of yourself as a rational, logical, person, but the reality of the matter is humans are emotional. That’s the magic of clickbait. Authors of clickbait know how emotional humans are and they know how to use that knowledge to create headlines that guarantee clicks.

If we were to extract every clickbait headline from the history of the Internet and put them in a giant list, you’d recognize a theme. Whether it’s anger, sadness, shock, humor, envy, fear, excitement, surprise, or inspiration… every headline revolves around a human emotion. It’s not accidental.

There have been a variety of studies done on how our emotions heavily influence what we can’t resist clicking on as we browse the net. The more polarizing and extreme the emotion the more likely we are to click.

Clickbait preys on our curiosity

It might not have killed the cat, but our curiosity and inability to avoid clickbait and listicles is definitely killing the art of the written word. If there’s one thing that humans are other than emotional, it’s curious.



George J. Ziogas

Manners will take you where money won’t | HR Consultant | OHS Specialist | Personal Trainer |