Wednesday, February 10, 2010

That's Awesome

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have been studying the list of New York Times "most emailed articles" for the past six months.

The surprising result: Science articles did much better than expected; among the top most-popularly-shared items.

What researchers have concluded is that writing that sparks a sense of awe is more likely to be passed along.

Awe-inspiring stories tended to be large in scale and to require the reader to view the world in a new way. Once the reader changes her outlook in response to new information, the researchers theorized, she's more likely to send it to other people to talk about it with them or enlighten them.

I doubt that small business advice regularly inspires awe. But any writer who's looking for a popular response probably would do well to keep the awe-effect in mind.


  1. Nice one! I shall now aspire to be awe-inspiring in the future--

  2. It's interesting, isn't it? I think that the "awe" category can be expanded far beyond new scientific discoveries and into any writing that sparks even a small insight or epiphany.

    And yes, fiction and poetry and all sorts of categories can do that!