If your ‘negative’ headline attracts attention, you have alerted your reader to a threat to their sense of security. That creates a good bit of psychological angst in your reader. And, an interesting predicament. For you.
PAIN . . . is Good; Too Much PAIN . . . is Not!
If all you do is direct your reader’s attention to a threat or problem they have or may have . . . you’ll lose them. Obviously, we’re not designed to live in a heightened and prolonged state of anxiety (which, your headline created!).
So if your reader’s initial anxiety is not addressed quickly — not completely, but to some degree at least — there’s a good chance they’ll stop reading as a way of protecting themselves from EPS (Excessive PAIN Syndrome).
Why We Love Scary Movies and Can’t Leave Until The End
Have you ever enjoyed (sic) a good scary movie? The kind where Bela Lugosi or Lon Chaney or Vincent Price starred? As a kid, these movies scared the hell out of me. Literally. I hated that feeling. But I loved those movies. I also sat through the whole movie, too. Why? Because I learned to expect that ‘no matter what’ . . . in the end, all would be made right. The sun would shine (poor vampire) and Belle would get her prince (sorry Beast).
Knowing that, no matter what PAIN I was feeling, in the end all would be fine . . . kept me in my seat for the entire movie. Why? HOPE! Make sure you remember that hope keeps people in their seats while PAIN is what makes them want to run away!
PAIN-full Headlines may attract attention . . . but HOPE keeps your reader around