Why Audiences Hate Hard News—And Love Pretending Otherwise

A reminder that polls that ask people to predict (or remember) their behavior are not as reliable as measurements that track what people actually do. (This is why usability testing — asking people to use something and measuring how well they perform — differs from simply gathering opinions.)

imageThe more attention-starved we feel, the more we thirst for stimuli that are familiar. We like ice cream when we’re sad, old songs when we’re tired, and easy listicles when we’re busy and ego-depleted. The Internet shorthand for this fact is “cat pictures.” Psychologists prefer the term fluency. Fluency isn’t how we think: It’s how we feel while we’re thinking. We prefer thoughts that come easily: Faces that are symmetrical, colors that are clear, and sentences with parallelisms. In this light, there are two problems with hard news: It’s hard and it’s new. (Parallelism!) —Derek Thompson – The Atlantic.