#FaithInHumanityRestored: Why People Are Drawn to Happy Headlines

Abby Haralson

We get emails from a few major news sources each morning so we can keep up with what’s going on in the world. And let’s be honest, most days it’s not pretty. From political turmoil to natural disasters, there seems to be no shortage of negative headlines vying for our attention.

And for a long time, the research showed that negative headlines sold—people were more likely to click on articles with sensational, fear-inducing titles. It seemed like bad news was the only news worth reporting.

But recently, there has been a shift towards sharing and celebrating positive stories. And it’s not just feel-good fluff pieces—these are real stories of humanity at its best, making a difference in the world.

Marketing researchers Katherine Milkman and Jonah Berger combed through thousands of New York Times articles published over a three-month period and found that content that invokes awe is the most shared content. That’s what we like to hear! Why are happy headlines the most viral and what does that have to do with your business?

Why We’re Drawn to Positive Stories

It’s no surprise that humans are drawn to negative news and fear-inducing stories—after all, our brains are wired for survival. But there’s also a part of us that craves the feel-good emotions associated with positive news.

Positive stories can evoke feelings of hope, inspiration, and unity. They remind us that despite all the negativity in the world, there is still goodness and kindness to be found. And when we share these stories with others, it can create a sense of connection and community.

The researchers found that awe is a “high-arousal” emotion, similar to anger on the negative side of the scale. Emotions like awe, amusement or anger push people to act, whereas an emotion like sadness deactivates and slows us down.

Plus, positive stories can have a ripple effect—when we see someone doing something good for others, it can inspire us to do the same. It’s a powerful reminder that even small acts of kindness can make a big impact.

Take the Good News Movement account on Instagram. Run by journalist Michelle Figueroa, it has over 5.5 million followers. Like the bio says, it shares “good news only,” and you wouldn’t believe the amount of comments from people saying that Figueroa’s content inspires them to be kinder.

We’ve seen this at our own company, Lemonade Stand. Listen to the full story here but here’s the short version. We give each of our employees $50 each month to serve someone else.

One of our employees, Bitsy, was grocery shopping when some teens asked if they could borrow a few dollars to cover the price of their after-school snacks. Instead, Bitsy told them to pick out $50 worth of snacks and she would buy it all for them.

They tried to give her their few dollars but after she explained why she wanted to pay for all $50, they told her they would go find someone in the parking lot to help with their money. 

Kindness inspires action.

How Positive Stories Can Benefit Your Business

As a business owner or marketer, you may be wondering how this shift towards positive news and storytelling can benefit your brand. Here’s how we’ve seen it impact us:

1. Build Trust and Authenticity

Consumers are becoming more skeptical of traditional advertising and marketing tactics. But when a brand shares positive stories and gives back to their community, it shows that they are more than just a profit-driven entity. It builds trust and authenticity, which can go a long way in creating loyal customers.

2. Create Emotional Connections

Positive stories have the power to evoke emotions in people. When businesses share these types of stories, it creates an emotional connection with their audience. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and a stronger brand reputation.

3. Increase Engagement and Social Sharing

As the research shows, positive stories are more likely to be shared on social media. By incorporating happy headlines and feel-good content into your marketing strategy, you can increase engagement and organic reach on social media platforms.

How Do You Create These Happy Headlines?

At Lemonade Stand, we use a program called Build Then Bless. It started as our company mission and has grown into a full-blown software that we use to bless others. Like we mentioned, each of our employees get $50 every month to spend on others. They can pay for the food of the person behind them in line, leave a generous tip, or get creative with their giving.

But it’s not just about the money—Build Then Bless is also about building relationships and connections with others. We make note of employee and client anniversaries, birthdays, tough days, sick days, and more so we can send support and gifts.

Our employees can shout each other out on the platform and even send each other money for a job well done. Best of all, we dedicate time each week to let employees share their Build Then Bless stories with each other, building unity and inspiration within our team.

Spread the Good News

So why not jump on the positivity train? Incorporate happy headlines and feel-good content into your marketing strategy. Not only will it benefit your business, but it can also inspire others to spread kindness and make a positive impact in their own communities.

Share good news, create emotional connections, and build trust with your audience. If you’re looking for a fool-proof way to do it, come talk to us about implementing Build Then Bless at your company. You can learn more about it here or reach out to us and see what it would look like at your business.

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