August 11th, 2011 by Karen
Well, peel me off the ceiling because my world has just been turned upside down. A new study from the University of California, San Diego suggests that spoilers actually increase people’s enjoyment of stories! What the what?!
Psychologists at the university had people read 12 stories. Some people read spoilers beforehand, and some did not. In all cases, the people who read the spoilers enjoyed the stories more than the people who didn’t read the spoilers!
One theory as to why: “Plots are just excuses for great writing. What the plot is is (almost) irrelevant. The pleasure is in the writing,” said Nicholas Christenfeld, one of the folks who conducted the study.
The official news release from the university puts it another way: “The overall findings are consistent with the experience most of us have had: A favorite tale can be re-read multiple times with undiminished pleasure. A beloved movie can be watched again and again.”
I never really thought about that, but it’s totally true! Look at my undying love for Harry Potter — if you count every time I’ve read a book, listened to an audiobook, or watched a movie, I’ve experienced that story over 35 times! And obviously, knowing what happens at the end of Book 7 doesn’t stop me from returning to the series over and over (and over) again.
So, what do YOU think? Do spoilers really ruin everything? Or if a book is well-written, can you enjoy it even when you know the ending? Leave a comment with your opinion!
Once Karen totally spoiled the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for a friend. But since that friend only watched the movies and didn’t read the books, Karen decided she really didn’t feel that bad about it.
Photo from flickr user i.m.indraneel