If fear, scandal, sex, and humor sell newspapers, it stands to reason that those topics would make for the most popular articles on news sites and blogs. Right?
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have intensively studied the New York Times list of most-e-mailed articles and discovered that it was an entirely unexpected emotion that caused the average reader to share an article.
“Emotion in general leads to transmission, and awe is quite a strong emotion,” [Dr. Berger] said. “If I’ve just read this story that changes the way I understand the world and myself, I want to talk to others about what it means. I want to proselytize and share the feeling of awe. If you read the article and feel the same emotion, it will bring us closer together.”