Watched 8 hours of MrBeast's content: Here are 7 psychological strategies he's used to get 34 billion views

Saad Benryane

MrBeast can fill giant stadiums and launch 8-figure candy companies on demand. He’s unbelievably popular. Recently, I listened to the brilliant marketer Phill Agnew (from The Nudge podcast) being interviewed on the Creator Science podcast. The episode focused on how MrBeast’s near-academic understanding of audience psychology is the key to his success. Better than anyone, MrBeast knows how to get you:

  • Click on his content (increase his click-through rate)
  • Get you to stick around (increase his retention rate)

He gets you to click by using irresistible thumbnails and headlines. I watched 8 hours of his content. To build upon Phil Agnew’s work, I made a list of 7 psychological effects and biases he’s consistently used to write headlines that get clicked into oblivion. Even the most aggressively “anti-clickbait” purists out there would benefit from learning the psychology of why people choose to click on some content over others. Ultimately, if you don’t get the click, it really doesn’t matter how good your content is.

1. Novelty Effect

MrBeast Headline: “I Put 100 Million Orbeez In My Friend's Backyard”

MrBeast often presents something so out of the ordinary that they have no choice but to click and find out more. That’s the “novelty effect” at play. Our brain’s reward system is engaged when we encounter something new. You’ll notice that the headline examples you see in this list are extreme. MrBeast takes things to the extreme. You don’t have to. Here’s your takeaway: Consider breaking the reader/viewer’s scrolling pattern by adding some novelty to your headlines.


Here are two ways:

  1. Find the unique angle in your content
  2. Find an unusual character in your content


  • “How Moonlight Walks Skyrocketed My Productivity”
  • “Meet the Artist Who Paints With Wine and Chocolate”

Headlines like these catch the eye without requiring 100 million Orbeez.

2. Costly Signaling

MrBeast Headline: "Last To Leave $800,000 Island Keeps It"

Here’s the 3-step click-through process at play here:

  1. MrBeast lets you know he’s invested a very significant amount of time and money into his content.
  2. This signals to whoever reads the headline that it's probably valuable and worth their time.
  3. They click to find out more.

Costly signaling is all about showcasing what you’ve invested into the content. The higher the stakes, the more valuable the content will seem. In this example, the $800,000 island he’s giving away just screams “This is worth your time!” Again, they don’t need to be this extreme.

Examples with a little more subtlety:

  • “I built a full-scale botanical garden in my backyard”
  • “I used only vintage cookware from the 1800s for a week”

Not too extreme, but not too subtle either.

3. Numerical Precision

MrBeast knows that using precise numbers in headlines just work. Almost all of his most popular videos use headlines that contain a specific number.


  • “Going Through The Same Drive Thru 1,000 Times”
  • “$456,000 Squid Game In Real Life!”

Yes, these headlines also use costly signaling. But there’s more to it than that. Precise numbers are tangible. They catch our eye, pique our curiosity, and add a sense of authenticity.

The concreteness effect:

Specific, concrete information is more likely to be remembered than abstract, intangible information. “I went through the same drive thru 1000 times” is more impactful than “I went through the same drive thru countless times”.

4. Contrast

MrBeast Headline: "$1 vs $1,000,000 Hotel Room!"

Our brains are drawn to stark contrasts and MrBeast knows it. His headlines often pit two extremes against each other, creating a mental image that sparks curiosity. You’re not just curious about what a $1,000,000 hotel room looks like. You’re also wondering how it could possibly compare to a $1 room. Was the difference wildly significant? Was it actually not as significant as you’d think? It increases the audience’s curiosity gap enough to get them to click and find out more.

Ways to use contrast in your headlines effectively:

Transformational Content:

"From $200 to a $100M Empire - How A Small Town Accountant Took On Silicon Valley"

You’re contrasting different states or conditions of a single subject. Transformation stories and before-and-after scenarios. You’ve got the added benefit of people being drawn to aspirational/inspirational stories.

Direct Comparison

“Local Diner Vs Gourmet Bistro - Where Does The Best Comfort Food Lie?”

5. Nostalgia

MrBeast Headline: "I Built Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory!"

Nostalgia is a longing for the past. It’s often triggered by sensory stimuli - smells, songs, images, etc. It can feel comforting and positive, but sometimes bittersweet. Nostalgia can provide emotional comfort, identity reinforcement, and even social connection. People are drawn to it and MrBeast has it down to a tee. He created a fantasy world most people on this planet came across at some point in their childhood. While the headline does play on costly signaling here as well, nostalgia does help to clinch the click and get the view.

Subtle examples of nostalgia at play:

  • “How this [old school cartoon] is shaping new age animation”
  • “[Your favorite childhood books] are getting major movie deals”

6. Morbid Curiosity

MrBeast Headline: "Surviving 24 Hours Straight In The Bermuda Triangle"

People are drawn to the macabre and the dangerous. Morbid curiosity explains why you’re drawn to situations that are disturbing, frightening, or gruesome. It’s that tension between wanting to avoid harm and the irresistible desire to know about it. It’s a peculiar aspect of human psychology and viral content marketers take full advantage of it. The Bermuda Triangle is practically synonymous with danger. The headline suggests a pretty extreme encounter with it, so we click to find out more.

7. FOMO And Urgency

MrBeast Headline: "Last To Leave $800,000 Island Keeps It"

“FOMO”: the worry that others may be having fulfilling experiences that you’re absent from. Marketers leverage FOMO to drive immediate action - clicking, subscribing, purchasing, etc. The action is driven by the notion that delay could result in missing out on an exciting opportunity or event. You could argue that MrBeast uses FOMO and urgency in all of his headlines. They work under the notion that a delay in clicking could result in missing out on an exciting opportunity or event.

MrBeast’s time-sensitive challenge, exclusive opportunities, and high-stakes competitions all generate a sense of urgency. People feel compelled to watch immediately for fear of missing out on the outcome or being left behind in conversations about the content.

Creators, writers, and marketers can tap into FOMO with their headlines without being so extreme.


  • “The Hidden Parisian Cafe To Visit Before The Crowds Do”
  • “How [Tech Innovation] Will Soon Change [Industry] For Good”

(Yep, FOMO and urgency are primarily responsible for the proliferation of AI-related headlines these days).

Input Bias

Input bias means valuing something more because a lot of effort went into it. MrBeast’s content often showcases significant effort, whether it’s cutting a table with a plastic knife or spending 40 hours counting to 100,000. This perceived effort makes viewers value the content more. The lesson for creators is to highlight the effort and resources put into your work.


  • “Spent 72 Hours Building a Life-Size Lego House”
  • “Read the Entire Encyclopedia in One Week”

Diverse Content Offering

MrBeast keeps his content diverse, maintaining a central theme of generosity while exploring different formats and topics. This variety keeps viewers coming back. From quirky challenges to philanthropic efforts, his diverse offerings cater to a wide audience, maintaining interest and engagement.


  • “$1 vs $500,000 Plane Ticket”
  • “Building the World’s Largest Ice Cream Sundae”


Collaborations with other YouTubers help MrBeast tap into different audiences, expanding his reach. Featuring other popular YouTubers in his videos not only attracts their followers but also adds variety and credibility to his content.


  • “Teaming Up with PewDiePie to Plant 20 Million Trees”
  • “$10,000 Giveaway with Top YouTubers”

Why This Matters

Understanding these psychological strategies can make the difference between your content getting noticed or ignored. While some may label it as clickbait, if your content delivers on the promise made in the headline, it’s not clickbait. MrBeast’s success lies in his ability to use linguistic techniques to capture attention. You don’t need to go to his extremes; you can apply these strategies in a way that suits your content and audience.

So, whether you’re a content creator, writer, or marketer, these psychological strategies can help you boost engagement and get your content in front of a larger audience. After all, if your content doesn’t get clicked, it won’t be seen, no matter how brilliant it may be.

The Perception of Value

When people see a headline that hints at significant effort, investment, or uniqueness, they are more likely to perceive the content as valuable. This perception can make the difference between a viewer clicking on your video or scrolling past it. For creators and marketers, leveraging these psychological insights can drastically increase engagement and retention.

Key Takeaways:

  • Highlight Effort: Showcase the time, effort, or resources you’ve invested in your content.
  • Use Numbers: Specific numbers create tangibility and authenticity.
  • Create Contrast: Use stark contrasts to pique curiosity.
  • Tap into Nostalgia: Evoke emotions by connecting to shared past experiences.
  • Leverage Morbid Curiosity: Use elements of danger or the macabre to draw interest.
  • Incorporate FOMO and Urgency: Create a sense of immediacy to drive action.

Practical Applications for Creators

Content Planning

When planning your content, think about how you can incorporate these psychological strategies. Consider the effort you’re putting into each piece and how you can highlight that in your headlines and thumbnails. Think about unique angles or unusual characters that can add a novelty factor. Use specific numbers to make your content more relatable and memorable.

Headline Writing

Your headline is often the first thing potential viewers see, so it needs to be compelling. Use the strategies discussed to craft headlines that not only grab attention but also convey the value and effort behind the content. Remember, the goal is to entice viewers without resorting to misleading tactics.


  • “We Built a Full-Scale Replica of the Eiffel Tower Using Only Toothpicks”
  • “I Spent 24 Hours in the World’s Most Haunted House”
  • “From Homeless to CEO: The Incredible Transformation of John Doe”

Thumbnail Design

Thumbnails should complement your headlines by visually representing the content's value. Use high-quality images and bold text to highlight key elements like numbers or contrasting scenarios. The thumbnail should give viewers a quick visual summary of what to expect, making it easier for them to decide to click.

Design Tips:

  • Use contrasting colors to make text and images stand out.
  • Highlight the most eye-catching element of your video.
  • Ensure your thumbnail is clear and readable even at smaller sizes.

Long-Term Strategy

Building Trust

Consistently delivering on the promises made in your headlines and thumbnails is crucial for building trust with your audience. If viewers feel misled, they are less likely to engage with your content in the future. Over time, maintaining this trust can lead to a loyal audience that regularly engages with your content.

Analytics and Iteration

Regularly review your analytics to see which headlines and thumbnails perform best. Pay attention to metrics like click-through rates and average view durations. Use this data to refine your strategies and continually improve your content's effectiveness. Iteration is key to long-term success, as it allows you to adapt to changing audience preferences and trends.

Community Engagement

Engage with your audience through comments, social media, and other platforms. Understand what resonates with them and what they are looking for in your content. This direct feedback can be invaluable in shaping your future content and ensuring it aligns with your audience’s interests and expectations.


MrBeast's meteoric rise on YouTube is a testament to the power of understanding and leveraging psychological strategies to captivate an audience. By applying these principles to your content creation process, you can significantly enhance your ability to attract, retain, and engage viewers. Remember, the key is not just to get the click but to deliver value that keeps your audience coming back for more.


Q1: How does MrBeast's focus on quality impact his success?

A: MrBeast's obsessive focus on making the best videos possible ensures that his content stands out in a crowded digital landscape. This dedication to quality helps build trust and loyalty among his viewers, leading to higher engagement and retention rates​.

Q2: What role does novelty play in MrBeast's content strategy?

A: Novelty plays a significant role by breaking the monotony of viewers' scrolling habits. Unique and unusual content catches the eye and piques curiosity, making viewers more likely to click on his videos​.

Q3: How can creators apply costly signaling in their content?

A: Creators can apply costly signaling by highlighting the effort, time, or resources invested in their content. This can be done through specific numbers, showcasing high-stakes challenges, or emphasizing the uniqueness of the content​​.

Q4: What is the importance of numerical precision in headlines?

A: Numerical precision makes content more tangible and authentic, which increases its appeal. Specific numbers are easier for viewers to grasp and remember, making them more likely to click on and engage with the content​​.

Q5: How does nostalgia enhance the appeal of MrBeast's videos?

A: Nostalgia taps into viewers' longing for the past, evoking emotional connections and positive memories. This emotional resonance makes the content more appealing and engaging, as viewers feel a personal connection to the themes presented​.

Q6: Why is contrast effective in MrBeast's content?

A: Contrast creates a compelling narrative by pitting two extremes against each other. This stark difference piques curiosity and encourages viewers to click to see the comparison, enhancing engagement​.

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