The massive social popularity of inspirational quotes has quite naturally attracted a lot of research on why people actually do it. While many delve into the psychological compulsions that drive the need to share inspirational/motivational slogans, others find interesting personality markers that propagate this sort of activity on social media. Let’s look at some of them:

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTERS ARE NOT VERY SMART

• According to a well-known Waterloo University, Ontario study, it’s people with low intelligence who get impressed by `pseudo-profound’ quotes. “We focused on pseudo-profound bulls**t, which consists of seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful. But are actually vacuous,” says lead researcher and cognitive psychologist Gordon Pennycook.

The researchers used Sebpearce (the site generates random, high-sounding phrases that really mean nothing), and then asked participants to categorize them as `mundane’, `BS’ or `profound’. The study also measured each participant’s cognitive abilities and matched their answers to find a pattern. And their theory panned out. There was a measurable correlation between the responders’ choice of category and their IQ level.

PEOPLE LIKE INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES BECAUSE THEY ARE SMALL AND SCROLL-FRIENDLY

• When scrolling down a social feed, people like shared elements that can be scanned easily without having to stop the scrolling motion. This has something to do with motion inertia and the fact that they know their social feed is going to be very long. To get through as many posts as possible, as quickly as possible, and dropping a `like’ along the way, nothing suits as well as an inspirational quote that carries a small, pithy text in large, bold print.

INPSIRATIONAL QUOTES ARE LIKE PHOTOGRAPHS – WITH A LOT MORE WEIGHT

• A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words and never is this more true than when your smartphone screen size is only 4.7 inches. 80% of all shared elements on social platforms comprise of images, and inspirational quotes do the job better by actually having words overlaid on a Hallmark scene of tranquil seas, stormy seas and sunrises.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES PUTS POSTERS ON A HIGHER MORAL GROUND

• The preachy, politically-correct subtext in a lot of these quotes creates a subconscious perception of moral worthiness of the people who are posting them.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES REVEAL INTERNAL HUMAN STRUGGLES

• The motivational nature of these quotes resonates with people who are going through the same sort of internal crisis that the message reflects. For example, one of the most popular themes – not caring what others think about you – is a universal message that resonates with lots of people who are experiencing related feelings of anger, self-doubt, sadness, depression and low self-esteem in the moment.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ARE A NOD TO THE NEW AGE MANTRA OF AFFIRMATIONS

• Affirmations are an intrinsic practice of a new-age lifestyle and inspirational quotes are the best vehicle for them on social media. A lot of people who post them sincerely believe they are bringing clarity and positivism in their friends’ lives. Truth however is that affirmations only work when someone is repeatedly exposed to the same message over long enough time for the subconscious mind to get imprinted with it. Quotes-on-scroll are pretty useless on that score.

THE WORLD IS GROWING MORE SUCEPTIBLE TO NEW AGE IDEAS ABOUT BLISS AND MANIFESTING THE HAPPIEST LIFE

• On the flip side, society as a whole is more open to ideas of spiritual change than ever. People want to hear words of hope, advise and support for their personal journeys, and there’s a feel-good factor in the receiving and sharing of quotes – even if it is only for a few seconds.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES SATISFY A PRIMAL NEED FOR LEADERSHIP

• Their appeal may even be rooted in biology. “Humans are aspirational,” says media psychology expert and communications consultant Scott Sobel. “We want to look up to role models and leaders and follow what they ask. Leaders and their inspirational quotes can affect us on a primal level.”

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