Old Yeller dies, Darth Vader is Luke's dad, Little Red Riding Hood lives. Did I spoil it? Yes I did. But maybe I did you a favor.
Spoilers enhance the enjoyment of a story, according to findings to be published in the journal Psychological Science.
Researchers presented three versions of classic stories to 30 subjects. Each story had an ironic twist, or a solved-mystery, or a dramatic end. One version was the original—no spoiler–another had the spoiler woven into the story and the third gave the spoiler right off the bat.
Turned out the subjects significantly preferred a spoiled version of the ironic twist stories best. The literary stories were the least preferred. But subjects enjoyed the spoiled version more than the original.
The researchers speculate that narrative is inherently interesting, and spoilers may make stories easier to follow.
These findings make us realize good storytelling doesn't rely on lingering suspense. I mean, I've watched Planes, Trains & Automobiles about 20 times, and I know they make it home for Thanksgiving. Ooops. Sorry!
—Christie Nicholson reports
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]