NY Times readers share articles that “inspired awe”

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied The New York Times list of most-e-mailed articles and found that people tended to share articles “with positive rather than negative themes,” the Times reports.

The researchers checked the most e-mailed list every 15 minutes for more than six months and analyzed the content of thousands of articles.

The Times report explains:

“People preferred e-mailing articles with positive rather than negative themes, and they liked to send long articles on intellectually challenging topics.

“Perhaps most of all, readers wanted to share articles that inspired awe, an emotion that the researchers investigated after noticing how many science articles made the list. In general, they found, 20 percent of articles that appeared on the Times home page made the list, but the rate rose to 30 percent for science articles, including ones with headlines like ‘The Promise and Power of RNA.’

“’Science kept doing better than we expected,’ said Dr. Berger, a social psychologist and a professor of marketing at Penn’s Wharton School. ‘We anticipated that people would share articles with practical information about health or gadgets, and they did, but they also sent articles about paleontology and cosmology. You’d see articles shooting up the list that were about the optics of deer vision.'”

Check out the full study here.