Why are BuzzFeed quizzes so popular? Experts explain the phenomenon

buzzfeed quiz
“What’s the deal with these quizzes?” indeed.
Credit: BuzzFeed

What Type of Emoji Are You? Which ’90s Alt-Rock Grrrl Are You? What Career Should You Actually Have? Which Al Roker Are You? Which ’90s Nickelodeon Show Are You? Are You Drake?

These are just a handful of the quizzes offered on BuzzFeed, and they have probably flooded your Facebook feed over the past few weeks.

It’s not clear why BuzzFeed quizzes have suddenly become the hottest thing on the web, but Keith Wilcox, a professor at Columbia Business School, said they are part of a larger tendency to “soft boast” on Facebook.

“I think it’s tapping into a general trend on social media where Facebook has really become a platform for people to post positive things about themselves,” he told us. “A BuzzFeed quiz is like a soft boast. It’s a way for you to communicate how good you or your interests are without going overboard.”

Wilcox added that as social media etiquette evolves, the “soft boast” has become the norm. “Someone once described a ‘soft boast’ as you posting a picture of yourself in another country instead of outright bragging about it,” he explained. “BuzzFeed quizzes are a way to occupy ourselves. We need to prove to others that we’re better than them, and they can be subtly used to do that.”

Preston Ni, professor of communication studies at Foothill College and a Fortune 500 trainer and personal coach, said posting the results of BuzzFeed quizzes is a good way to get attention. “It’s part of the social media self-advertisement trend,” he said. “It helps people who are less expressive and more introverted to identify themselves and let other people know who they are. It’s a good way to start a conversation topic and it’s better than ‘what I ate today’ or ‘how my cat looks today.’” Ni said by posting quiz results on Facebook, users open the floor to have their friends compliment them.

“I have a close friend who used to joke, ‘That’s enough of me talking about myself — let’s hear you talk about me,’” said Ni. “The BuzzFeed quizzes are sometimes like people saying, ‘This is what I have about myself; let’s see how you talk about me.’ It can be very narcissistic in that regard.” But Ni said most of the time, the quizzes are harmless. “It’s fun, it’s cool and it’s a social trend,” he said. “If everybody is a ‘Sopranos’ fan and you take a quiz on which character you are, it’s fun to compare and talk about it.”

Psychologist Dr. Michael Friedman said social media trends do not necessarily indicate that people today are more narcissistic than ever. “I don’t think it’s a grand indictment on a generation,” he said. “There have always been kind of annoying things that people do to deal with being bored or to connect with people. This is just another one.”

Friedman said though some users may find the deluge of BuzzFeed quiz results a pain, the posts can create an open dialogue. “Even if the majority of people might be dismissive, there might be one or two people that connect and that becomes your network,” he said. “On the Internet, there are billions of people out there and you only need a few to feel a connection. Certain people do things to try and find them.”

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…