Spoilers Have More Fun

Screenshot from the trailer of Alfred Hitchcock’s *Notorious* [1946], via WikiCommons

Screenshot from the trailer of Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious [1946], via WikiCommons

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who read the last page or two of a book before starting it, and those who insist on knowing as little as possible. To the latter group, one can barely mention a book or a film without them snapping back, “Don’t say anything more! I don’t want to know!” They’ll sanctimoniously stick their fingers in their ears - some of them won’t even read the book blurb on the back cover. And in the process they make those of us who don’t mind knowing the ending feel like second-rate readers. Spoilsports, so to speak. Well, spoilsports of the world, unite! No longer need we skim the last page of a John Grisham in furtive shame, for new research suggests that spoilsports have more fun.

Results of a recent US study suggest that knowing the ending of a story may increase audience pleasure. The Guardian reports that a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science is due to publish results of a survey undertaken by University of San Diego researchers indicating that survey subjects who were given spoiler paragraphs to read before reading 30 short stories across a variety of genres reported higher levels of satisfaction than subjects whose reading wasn’t spoiled. “So it could be that 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,” explained Jonathan Leavitt, a PhD student at the university and one of the study’s co-authors.

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