What is it about?

Clickbait headlines are carefully designed to enticed social media users to click on them to find out more. This paper explores how clickbait writers achieve this via the linguistic decisions they make. I show how personal pronouns (me, you, he, we, etc.), demonstratives (this, that, these, etc.) and superlatives and intensifiers (best, greatest, mind-blowing, etc.) arouse curiosity in readers and drive them to click.

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Why is it important?

Understanding how clickbait functions is key when developing clickbait detection and avoidance software. It is also important when designing digital literacy training materials and online content policy.

Perspectives

Clickbait can be hard to resist! Even when we know the link is likely to lead us to a disappointing article, we may still feel the urge to click. The work in this paper helps us to understand why this, and allow us to see how the mechanisms and techniques in clickbait exploit our natural processes for interpreting language and other communicative acts.

Kate Scott
Kingston University

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This page is a summary of: You won't believe what's in this paper! Clickbait, relevance and the curiosity gap, Journal of Pragmatics, April 2021, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2020.12.023.
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