New research proves that spoilers who betray how books, films or series end up do not spoil the fun at all. They make it more fun.
Some people can be completely upset if someone else tells them how a book that they have not yet read ends. And let's be honest: it often seems more fun to discover for yourself how stories go in films, books or series. But new research shows that that assumption is not correct at all. Spoilers do not spoil the fun. In fact, they increase the pleasure that people experience with a book or film.
The researchers base that conclusion on experiments. They collected twelve short stories. Some stories were literary, others mysterious. And others had an ironic plot twist. The stories were also available in three variants: one without a spoiler, one with an introduction explaining how it ended and one with the spoiler incorporated in the story, so that it looked like it was part of it. Subjects read the different versions of the stories.
The results are striking. The test subjects found stories with a spoiler more pleasant than stories without a spoiler when it concerned stories with an ironic twist. An example of such an ironic plot twist: the story tells how a prisoner escapes from prison. At the end it becomes clear that it is a dream of the prisoner and that it comes to an end when the prisoner is hanged. The test subjects also liked mysterious stories - detectives for example - if they knew how it ended. The test subjects had little to do with the literature, but of all the literary stories they were presented with, they liked the stories with spoiler best.
Plot is unimportant
How is that possible? Researchers think they know. The plot is not at all as important as imagined. "A plot is just an excuse to write well," says researcher Nicholas Christenfeld. “What the plot is is actually completely irrelevant. Monet's paintings are also not about water lilies. ”Another explanation could be that our brains have to make less effort if we already know the outcome of a story. That would explain why it is okay to read a good book multiple times or see movies multiple times. Even though we know how it ends: it remains fun.
In their conclusion, the researchers go one step further by stating that all this would not only apply to books and films. "Perhaps birthday gifts can be better wrapped in cellophane and engagement rings are more fun if they are not hidden in a chocolate mousse."
The scientists now want to find out how important it is that a story is true. They want to try to find out if that influences the pleasure we experience in a story.