Apparently, ‘ruining’ the ending can actually enhance your enjoyment
These are the people who see the words ‘Spoiler alert’, and slam their laptops shut in fear of ruining Stranger Things series two. But, it turns out that looking for spoilers might not actually be such a terrible thing. At least, that’s what professor of psychology, Nicholas Christenfeld believes.
In a study for UC San Diego in 2011, Christenfeld revealed that knowing spoilers doesn’t always ruin a story. In fact, this can enhance your overall experience. This is because, when we don’t know what happens next, we can get so caught up in the tension that it actually detracts from our enjoyment of a book, TV series or movie.
“The point is, really we’re not watching these things for the ending,” said Christenfeld in an article published by the University of California News. “I point out to the skeptics, people watch these movies more than once happily, and often with increasing pleasure.”
To prove his point, in the study, Christenfeld’s researchers had subjects read an array of short stories. One group read a story and, at the end, rated how much they enjoyed it. The other group did the same thing, but the narrative was spoiled by an introduction paragraph that ‘accidentally’ revealed the outcome.
The experiment was repeated across three genres – mysteries, ironic-twist stories and evocative literature. “Across all three genres, spoilers actually were enhancers,” Christenfeld said.
“When people go to see Romeo and Juliet, they don’t think, ‘Don’t tell me how it ends!’ All’s Well That Ends Well? That one ends well. So there isn’t any thought that with these great works of fiction, knowing the ending is going to ruin them.”
So, there you have it. While avoiding spoilers can certainly keep you on the edge of your seat, there’s also something to be said for totally ‘ruining’ the ending.