Story Spoilers Don’t Spoil Stories
We all love a good story. Knowing how the story unfolds doesn’t change that:
Stories are a universal element of human culture, the backbone of the billion-dollar entertainment industry, and the medium through which religion and societal values are transmitted. The enjoyment of fiction through books, television, and movies may depend, in part, on the psychological experience of suspense. Spoilers give away endings before stories begin, and may thereby diminish suspense and impair enjoyment; indeed, as the term suggests, readers go to considerable lengths to avoid prematurely discovering endings. Transportation, a distinct form of story engagement associated with vivid imagery and enhanced enjoyment ( Green, Brock, & Kaufman, 2004), is highly associated with suspense via close attention to the unfolding plot and interest in how it will be resolved ( Tal-Or & Cohen, 2010). However, people’s ability to reread stories with undiminished pleasure, and to read stories in which the genre strongly implies the ending, suggests that suspense regarding the outcome may not be critical to enjoyment and may even impair pleasure by distracting attention from a story’s relevant details and aesthetic qualities. In complex stories, developments hazy in their implications on first read are readily understood when the narrative is revisited, and nervous stirrings of uncertainty may become warm anticipation of coming events once the story is laid bare.
Also see: Is Reading Fiction Good For You?
Read what you’ve been missing. Subscribe to Farnam Street via Email, RSS, or Twitter.
Shop at Amazon.com and support Farnam Street.
Source: Story Spoilers Don’t Spoil Stories