New York Times: “Click Bait Is a Distracting Affront to Our Focus,” by Gloria Mark

November 25, 2014

The grand challenge associated with our digital age is maintaining focus of attention. On average, people switch their focus of attention when working with digital media about every three minutes. The design of personal computers, smart devices and, of course, the Internet all contribute to this fragmentation of our attention. Click bait as a design element is a natural evolution, and consequence, of the Internet that affects our flow of attention.

Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity. While we can’t blame all attention distraction on click bait, as with any addictive relationship, it is an enabler. When we switch our attention to a new activity, the cognitions that we used in the first task remain as we transition to the subsequent task. This attention residue adds to our cognitive load as we keep switching our focus of attention and trying to reorient to new topics. Once overloaded, we tend to do more lightweight activities. And that makes us even more susceptible to the lure of click bait.

Read the full story on the New York Times website.