The Goldfish Attention span is a Myth

I'm Rachel!

Marketing strategist. Former Ayurveda Health Coach, Yoga Instructor & Holistic Nutritionist. Avid reader. Pitta. 4/6 Manifesting Generator. Obsessed with my Golden.

hey there

Get my Marketing Insights Tracker 

Gimme that

Stories about me and my life as an entrepreneur.

TOp categories

Marketing Insights, Tips, and Research.

Stories from practitioners that inspire you to think differently.

Inspiration. Lessons Learned. Stuff that's not marketing.

Have you ever watched Only Murders in the Building?

I’m probably behind the times, because I usually am (fun fact: I never watched much TV before meeting my husband and have still never seen more than a handful of episodes of Friends and The Office?).

Anyways, the show was my recent Hulu binge, commercials and all. Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez are a combination I never knew I needed!

As I sat down to finish the season, I thought about the stat that widely circulated on social media not too long ago.

“Humans have an 8-second attention span, shorter than a goldfish.”

Hmm…well, I just used my attention span for about 90 minutes, even with the same commercial reappearing on my TV every time a new piece of evidence was revealed. I’m no superhuman, so what’s going on here?

Two things seemed a little “fishy” (I had to) about this study when I typed it into ‘ole Google.

?  1) The study no longer exists on the internet, despite being quoted by The New York Times, Time Magazine, and USA Today.

? 2) Goldfish, ironically, do not have short attentions spans and have been used in hundreds of studies to research memory formation.

So, what gives?

The key to understanding why this is so believable (even though it isn’t proven to be accurate) is to recognize that there are actually many different types of attention.

  • Focused Attention: Refers to our ability to focus attention on a stimulus. (ex: seeing, opening, and then reading this newsletter)
  • Sustained Attention: The ability to attend to a stimulus or activity over a long period of time. (ex: watching 3 straight episodes of Only Murders in the Building)
  • Selective Attention: The ability to attend to a specific stimulus or activity in the presence of other distracting stimuli. (ex: reading a book on a busy train)
  • Alternating Attention: The ability to change focus/attention between two or more stimuli. (ex: commercials)
  • Divided Attention: The ability to attend to different stimuli or attention at the same time. (ex: listening to audible and driving)

Selective and Alternating Attention is what we’ve had to use more of over the years as the amount of content being thrown at us increases?, giving us more choices for where we can place our attention.

However, I think it’s fair to say that we’re using more sustained attention, as well. The Avatar movies are over 3 hours long. People report binge watching entire TV series in one sitting (~5 hours?!). And the world’s #1 podcast has an average showtime of roughly 2.5 hours.

Here’s what I takeaway from all of this:

When you create content, you need to do 3 things.

  1. Get attention
  2. Keep attention
  3. Alchemize attention into action


When you write the hooks for your content (aka the first thing someone sees when they take a glimpse at your content), it must be enticing! This doesn’t mean create clickbait. It does mean getting specific and targeted with your headlines.

?GOOD HOOK: 3 Gua Sha Techniques that Help with TMJ

❌BAD HOOK: Gua Sha Tips

See the difference?


Have you ever been so into a book or movie that you didn’t notice a single thing happening around you?

That’s called immersion, and in order to keep attention, you should practice writing content that immerses your audience in what you’re saying.

“A great story triggers the subtle emotional centers of our brains so we can care enough to keep going. Novelty triggers surprise, delight, fascination. Tension triggers anxiety, curiosity, cravings. Relatability triggers empathy, nostalgia, happiness.  And when you weave those things in combination, you can string together a longer attention span.

shane snow


⚡An amazing piece of content will inspire people to take action without prompting. ?If you have a great piece of content, you can direct people to take action and they will. ?If you have a poor piece of content, there will be minimal quality action no matter how many flashy BUY NOW buttons or sales psychology tactics you throw in.

Using those 3 things will help your content get seen by more people, become more compelling, and drive conversions.

Oh, and if you’re still reading this, you’ve already proved the “humans have shorter attention spans than goldish” theory wrong (unless you’re a speed reader and this only took you 7.9 seconds….).

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment

Leave a Reply

Hi, I'm Rachel.
Your Biz Bff + New Marketing Team.

I've been you. After graduating from business school and working at a digital agency, I left the 9-5 grind and went *all in* on studying Ayurveda, Yoga, Holistic Nutrition, and Reiki. I co-built a wellness brand for 3 years until I realized my magic isn't in being a practitioner, but in being the bestie, marketing team, and hype woman behind the scenes.

Learn more

Is your marketing not working? Book a free 30-minute audit with me and let's figure out were things are broken.


Your Clients' Real Pain Points


get me on there

Come see why my newsletter has a crazy high engagement rate...

No freebie here, because my newsletter is really just that good.

© ROOTED STRATEGY, LLC. All rights reserved. 2022-2023.| Legal | Privacy | Design by TONIC


Marketing Strategy for Ayurveda and holistic health practitioners.