Critical Reading>Select an Answer
Every day, countless new articles, videos and blogs are uploaded to the Internet. Most of these languish in relative obscurity. But a few go viral: they explode across the web, attracting the attention of hundreds of thousands (sometimes millions) of people in short order. Content that goes viral may remain in the public consciousness for days, weeks, or longer. So for those who want to reach a large audience -- whether it's for a corporate marketing campaign or to promote a personal cause or to show the world your cat's amazing yodeling ability -- the question of what makes content go viral online is important.
In our research, two of us (Milkman and Berger) have explored what it is that makes some content spread like wildfire and whether it's possible to deliberately achieve viral status. If so, what are the characteristics of viral content?
We examined what content on the New York Times' homepage is most widely shared, and what scientific research summaries are most likely to be passed along and found that viral content tends to be characterized by certain, predictable qualities. While content may be shared for many reasons, overall, content that elicits an emotional reaction tends to be more widely shared. In addition, stories stimulating positive emotions are more widely shared than those eliciting negative feelings, and content that produces greater emotional arousal (making your heart race) is more likely to go viral. This means that content that makes readers or viewers feel a positive emotion like awe or wonder is more likely to take off online than content that makes people feel sad or angry, though causing some emotion is far better than inspiring none at all.
The main purpose of paragraph 2 is to __________
(A) identify the central issues related to viral content that the researchers wanted to examine.
(B) introduce the idea that some people share content online with the hope that it will go viral.
(C) acknowledge one aspect of viral content that the researchers still do not understand.
(D) emphasize that there are specific characteristics that make online articles and videos appealing.
Choice A is the best answer. In the second paragraph the authors identify the primary issues they addressed in their study: what causes some content to "spread like wildfire," "whether it’s possible to deliberately achieve viral status," and what characteristics viral content has.