Spoiler alert! According to a new study, spoilers may actually increase our enjoyment of books, movies, and television shows.
Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt, from the University of
California at San Diego, provided participants in their study with a
variety of "ironic-twist, mystery and literary" short stories. Some
readers read the stories, by authors such as John Updike, Roald Dahl,
Anton Chekhov, Agatha Christie and Raymond Carver, in their original
formats. Others, were given a preface with the spoiler or read a version
with the spoiler written into the middle of the story.
nearly every time, the readers preferred the "spoiled" versions. This
was especially true for stories with unexpected twists.
fly in the face of conventional wisdom that ignorance is bliss when it
comes to enjoying entertainment.One possible explanation for
this phenomenon is the comfort factor. "Once you know how it turns out,
it’s cognitively easier – you’re more comfortable processing the
information – and can focus on a deeper understanding of the story,"
Another explanation, according to Wired writer
Jonah Lehrer, is the "dismay of a prediction error." He points out that
when faced with a plot twist, "Our first reaction is almost never 'How
cool! I never saw that coming!' Instead, we feel embarrassed by our
Regardless of what the full study says in
September's Issue of "Psychological Science," we won't be joining those
who skip ahead and read the end of a book first. And if you try to spoil
new episodes of our favorite shows before we get the chance to watch
them, all you'll get from us is "La, La, La, We Can't Hear You!"
What about you? Do you like spoilers?