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Why Top Seven Lists Work

I read an article over at webpronews.com called Top 7 Lists Lead The Pack On Digg about using lists. The basic premise of the article was that a Top 7 List performs much better than all other list sizes – based on front page views on DIGG.

I find this to be a very interesting article because it relates more to how people react to things than to the actual quality (or completeness) of the information presented. Based on this article, people actually choose to DIGG these list sizes more often than the others. This is very important information for bloggers because the bottom line in blogging is traffic. If you can reach the front page of DIGG, just think about how broad your readership becomes instantly. From the article:

The result: if you can’t think of ten different things to say, it’s not a problem. “7 is the magic number, it seems the most comfortable – not exhausting but not incomplete,” writes Jones. “Perhaps our attention span is shorter than ever?”

Of course, let’s not believe that this is a new phenomenon. My first reaction was that the Top 10 list has fallen out of favor because the new generation wants instant access, instant information and everything packaged neatly and quickly. I don’t think this is the case. If you take a look at one of the biggest selling personal finance and development books (most likely not targeting tweens!) the Top 7 list is king there too: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Perhaps it comes down to seven being an all important number in our human psyche that controls our subconscious mind. Here’s a look at some important facts about the number seven:

  1. The number of openings into the human head
  2. Seven is the smallest positive integer requiring more than one syllable in English
  3. The number of rings given to the Dwarf Lords in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
  4. The number of main islands of mythological Atlantis.
  5. The number of stellar objects in the solar system visible to the naked eye
  6. The number of spots on a common ladybug.
  7. The name George Costanza desired to give his first-born

If this doesn’t explain it then nothing will…

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