Spoilers Don't Actually Spoil

People like known surprise twists early, says study
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2011 4:20 PM CDT
Spoilers Don't Actually Spoil
In this film publicity image released by Warner Bros., Ellen Page and Leonardo DiCaprio are shown in a scene from "Inception."   (AP Photo/Warner Bros., Stephen Vaughan)

Next time you inadvertently spoil the end of a TV show or movie for someone who hasn't seen it yet, bust out this study in defense: Spoilers don't spoil anything, say researchers at UC San Diego. In fact, they say people enjoy a story better if they know plot twists or surprise endings in advance, reports Science Daily. The scientists had separate groups read the same stories with different degrees of tip-offs—sometimes spoiling a mystery at the get-go and sometimes not—and measured satisfaction afterward.

One theory: It's easier to process events when you know how they're going to play out. It's why you can watch The Empire Strikes Back over and over again without being bummed out that you already know the twist ending. It's possible that our entire perception of surprises could be way off, the researchers write in Psychological Science. "Perhaps birthday presents are better when wrapped in cellophane, and engagement rings are better when not concealed in chocolate mousse." (More The Empire Strikes Back stories.)

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