Good summary featured on TheConversation.com…
What causes one meme to replicate more successfully than another? Some researchers say that memes develop characteristics called “Good Tricks” to provide them with competitive advantages, including:
1. being genuinely useful to a human host;
2. being easily imitated by human brains; and
3. answering questions that the human brain finds of interest.
First, if a meme is genuinely useful to humans, it is more likely to spread. Spoked-wheel wagons will replicate quickly because early humans need to transport lots of freight easily. Second, memes that are easy to copy have a competitive advantage over those that aren’t – a catchy hook like “WHO LET THE DOGS OUT” is easier to replicate than the lines to U2’s “Numb” (called one of the toughest pop songs to understand). Third, memes that answer pressing questions are likely to replicate. Peruse any bookstore aisle and you will find numerous books about finding your purpose, figuring out the meaning of life, or losing weight quickly and effectively – all topics of immense interest to many people.