The Psychology Behind Our Addiction To Quizzes

In February alone, we spent 11 years worth of time taking quizzes online. That’s absurd, and it’s safe to say that our society is currently addicted to taking quizzes. We can’t stop and we won’t stop, and there is good reason why. You see, quizzes have all the right characteristics to be highly addictive. They fill our need for self-actualization, and boost our self esteem. These are the top two tiers on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you can that we actually need quizzes. How did this happen?

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1. Quizzes boost our esteem: Have you ever gotten a quiz result that told you to get your act together or improve in any way? Probably not, because almost every quiz is filled with esteem-boosting goodness and no negativity. Since a quiz takes personal information about you and spits out a result, what it tells you is believable. Never mind that every result is a positive one. Per Maslow’s hierarchy, we need self-esteem in our lives, and quizzes use their built-in intuition to provide this.

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2. Quizzes help us find ourselves: Despite the fact that all results are skewed towards positive, quizzes are uniquely positioned to offer up real advice based on our actual character traits. The science isn’t precise, but quizzes are able to dive into your psych a little bit. Understanding ourselves helps us become more confident in who we are, again boosting self-esteem.

3. Quizzes Give us Social Reassurance: Refer back to number one, every result is positive. Zimbio’s celebrity roommate quiz has been taken over 2 million times almost entirely because of social traffic. Why? Because every single result of the quiz is a testament to how awesome you (the quiz taker) are and why you should be roommates with some amazing celebrity.

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How to use quizzes as a marketer: 

1. Don’t re-invent anything: The same quizzes have been around for years and are still just as effective today as they were ten years ago. The difference is that now they are written to be addictive. Start with a quiz template instead of trying to write an entire quiz yourself. That way you can focus on what matters – namely writing the quiz for your audience in a way that is positive and encouraging. Take cues from Buzzfeed and Zimbio who have already figured out how to produce quizzes that are highly share-able and adapt those ideas to your quiz.

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2. Be 80% entertaining: There is a temptation to use  quizzes the way they are used in school – as an educational tool. Don’t give in to that temptation, or you risk losing the addictive power of your quiz. Quizzes have to be mostly entertainment to be successful.

3. Do have a call-to-action: A great quiz can drive millions of visits. Be prepared with a proper call to action in your quiz to take advantage of all that new traffic. Quizzes are flexible in how you can implement calls-to-action. They can be used for lead generation, as a funnel to other posts, or as a way to offer up a personalized product recommendation.

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11 years is a long time, and it looks like quizzes will suck up even more of our time in March and coming months. Quizzes have hit the spot and are irresistible to us because they make us feel good. Take advantage of this trend by creating your own quizzes using the same methods that have proved so successful for others.

This article is an original contribution by Josh Haynam.

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