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Do Spoilers Ruin a Good Story? No, Say Researchers

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the maybe-researchers-are-just-jerks dept.

Books 238

Hugh Pickens writes "According to a recent study at the University of California San Diego, knowing how a book ends does not ruin its story and can actually enhance enjoyment. It suggests people may enjoy a good story as much as a good twist at the end, and even if they know the outcome, will enjoy the journey as much as the destination. 'It could be that once you know how it turns out, you're more comfortable processing the information and can focus on a deeper understanding of the story,' says co-author Jonathan Leavitt. Researchers gave 12 short stories to 30 participants where two versions were spoiled and a third was not. In all but one story, readers said they preferred versions which had spoiling paragraphs written into it. Even when the stories contained a plot twist or mystery, subjects preferred the spoiled versions. 'Plots are just excuses for great writing,' says social psychologist Nicholas Christenfeld. 'As a film director, your job isn't really to come to the conclusion that the butler did it. A single line would do that.'"

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Not so (5, Funny)

theweatherelectric (2007596) | about 3 years ago | (#37103094)

I read the article but the summary spoiled it for me.

Re:Not so (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103106)

Damn, just ran out of points.

Re:it depends (3)

xiayou (2316372) | about 3 years ago | (#37103294)

Re: (1)

kakarote (2294232) | about 3 years ago | (#37103330)

so you think the book is written by using that URL who you hyper-linked whole comment. may it can but not sure..

Re:Not so (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103118)

and i didn't because i didn't find the summary interesting.

Dumbledore dies in book 6 (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 3 years ago | (#37103172)


Re:Dumbledore dies in book 6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103348)

so, so old.

Re:Dumbledore dies in book 6 (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 years ago | (#37104260)

I'd say whether it would be ruined or not at least in films (sadly I just don't have time to curl up with a book, barely have time to see maybe 1 movie a month) is whether or not it is a really good twist ( Six Sense) or a lame one you can see coming a mile away (Everything else directed by M Night).

Frankly VERY few movies have a twist good enough that finding out will ruin the thing, most are so telegraphed that frankly who cares. I mean who didn't see the twist coming in say Unbreakable a fricking mile away? Usually if the story is even halfway decent one can forgive a lame twist especially since M Night made the damned things so common.

Re:Not so (4, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 years ago | (#37103208)

That's a switch. Normally, the Slashdot summary is so poor, it could be a summary for pretty much anything.

And after writing the above, I thought of those generic fake movie trailers for some kind of sci-fi action film but I can't where I saw them.

The Lone Gunmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103570)

Mind you, that wouldn't be the first time the summary spoiled something... []

Of course, thanks to this article we now know that /. was actually doing us all a favour all those years ago. Thanks! That makes it feel so much better and stuff!

Re:Not so (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103786)

Snape kills dumbledore, amirite?

Kenny dies (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37104002)


Duh (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37103124)

The only stories ruined by spoilers are the ones which rely on silly twists for effect. I know in any Bond movie that he's going to get the girl and save the day, but I've still watched most of them (OK, maybe that's not true of the most recent one because it was so awful that I couldn't handle more than fifteen minutes of it before I turned off the DVD so I've no idea how it ends).

Re:Duh (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 3 years ago | (#37103398)

HEY! A plot to steal water from a desert is just as plausible as a frickin lasers battles in space
But way way way... less cool.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37104224)

It wasn't the story but the storytelling that killed that movie. In most cases the storytelling is much more important than the story itself.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103420)

The gimp is Keyser Söze

Re:Duh (2)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#37103490)

Bond movies are not really known for their great storylines. They tend to be set pieces with the barest of plots to string them together. This is especially the case some of the later ones (before the reboot). I can't comment too much on the most recent one because, like you, I found it unwatchable. (Edit: I mean that you found it unwatchable and I did too. I did not mean that I found both the movie and you unwatchable).

Twists do not have to be silly. There have be a couple of movies that had twists that caused me to immediately restart the film and watch it again to look at it in a whole new light. In those cases, knowing the ending would have completely ruined the amazement.

On the other hand, I love stories that show you the end and the go back to tell how it led up to that point as a flashback. I think the difference is that if the spoiler is contained within the story, then you assume that author cleverly constructed it that way for storytelling effect. If someone else just tells you the ending of a book or film then you just feel cheated.

So really, the result of this study should be that people enjoy stories that play with the standard storytelling techniques rather than just the pedestrian beginning, middle and end structure.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103614)

Cool story bro', now I am going to watch all Rocky-movies.

Re:Duh (1)

Kagura (843695) | about 3 years ago | (#37103494)

I'm watching Battlestar Galactica right now. I'm about halfway through the third season, and I would sorely hate to have the rest of the series spoiled for me. The direction the series is heading is still up in the air, and I'd rather enjoy the journey as the authors intended... not knowing exactly what will happen when or if they reach Earth, and how things will eventually turn out. I'm not looking at the story comments anymore... closing this tab now. ;)

Re:Duh (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 3 years ago | (#37103572)

CAUTION: Spoilers Below!!

Optimus Prime is a Cylon.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103724)


re: duh (1)

Dthief (1700318) | about 3 years ago | (#37103728)

Turns out that Baltar’s Head Six and Caprica’s Head Baltar that we saw throughout the series were neither delusions, nor were they communications sent through an implant. They were angels. And Kara Thrace, who had apparently died, only to return to help guide Galactica to Earth? Well, she was probably an angel too.

So to find out that Galactica’s entire voyage — the series — was steered by angels literally sent from God

And Laura's death could've been some kind of histrionic, melodramatic affair...but it was handled with class and grace.

Re:Duh (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 3 years ago | (#37103734)

Spoiler alert; like season 1 and 2, it gets worse after season 3.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37104326)

SPOILER: It ends with you being disappointed in the writers at passing 2 or 3 good endings that nearly fall out of the last few episodes by themselves and instead choosing a grandiose and utterly ridiculous ending that a series fo such quality didn't deserve.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37104304)

Title: Do spoilers ruin a GOOD story?
not: Do spoilers ruin a kr4p story?

Also, I always thought of Bond movies as being more like pr0n - no story to ruin

I could have told them that. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103128)

It's not the destination that's important, it's the journey.

Re:I could have told them that. (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#37103318)

But you can't always enjoy the journey if you know what will happen. In some books, you know what will happen without spoilers - most authors are very kind to their protagonists. This is especially true of television, or serialized short stories, where the protagonists must always live to fight another day.

But in many cases, stories are more realistic. Unforeseen troubles dash the hopes of the heroes. It's a lot more fun if your hopes are dashed along with them, and if you are led to feel a bit of the same despair that the characters feel, wondering if perhaps this story has a tragic ending. And it is that much more joyful when they find a way to come out on top.

Re:I could have told them that. (2)

anss123 (985305) | about 3 years ago | (#37103468)

Unforeseen troubles dash the hopes of the heroes. It's a lot more fun if your hopes are dashed along with them, and if you are led to feel a bit of the same despair that the characters feel, wondering if perhaps this story has a tragic ending. And it is that much more joyful when they find a way to come out on top.

I almost always read the ending before the start. Of course, I don't always read the ending, but IME I tend to enjoy the "spoiled" stories more. Just as the article claims actually. Finally, science is on my side! Take that anti-spoilers! The possibility of a tragic ending does not enhance my enjoyment of the story in any case.

Re:I could have told them that. (1)

MurukeshM (1901690) | about 3 years ago | (#37103336)

Sometimes the destination affects the journey. That's what made the difference when I watched the Perfect Storm (only a week back, didn't know anything about the plot before, though I had seen the huge wave scene before.). If I had already know that it really was a perfect storm, then certainly my view of the movie would have changed, and that drastically. In fact, I was feeling increasingly pissed off as the movie progressed, because I felt that there's going to be nothing different about this movie, that the crew would survive after around (movie time) an hour of harrowing experiences.

soylent green is people (1)

lemur3 (997863) | about 3 years ago | (#37103130)

and also.. Voyager does make it home to earth

The difference is... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 3 years ago | (#37103136)

The difference is, most books/movies do not have a good story. Instead most are pretty typical and only have a single twist at the end to give it any life. Heck, most every story is a rip off of Shakespeare which in turn was a rip-off of folk tales.

Re:The difference is... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37103218)

Precisely, many movies are entertaining without needing a plot. I think that Michael Bay is pretty famous for not worrying about the plot.

But, if you look at the format with which stories are told, the structure really doesn't work very well if you know what the solution to the problems the protagonist is dealing with are. You know that ultimately Sarah Connor is going to win out over the Terminator, but the movie wouldn't be anywhere near as interesting if you knew how that comes about.

You know that in most movies good is going to triumph over evil, the boy is going to end up getting the girl and somebody is probably going to learn a life lesson, but having information about how that happens and how the transformations occur is definitely going to harm the experience.

Short stories aren't everything... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103142)

IMO, the longer the story, the more significant twists can be (because the reader can be more heavily invested in their pre-twist assumptions), so on the continuum from short-stories/standalone TV, through feature films, to fully serial TV/novels, one might expect to see a reversal of this effect.

Of course, even for long works, spoilers aren't that big a deal for your enjoyment reading it once -- most people would agree that any work that's not enjoyable on a reread/rewatch (when it's completely spoiled) was crap to begin with. Still, there's one first time through, where twists can be genuinely surprising, and as many rereads as time permits; two different experiences, and spoilers make you miss out on the one that can't be reproduced.

Do two-day-old stories ruin websites? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103146)

This anecdote says yes.

Let me get this straight. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | about 3 years ago | (#37103150)

When they say spoilers, they are referring to the Colombo mystery where they first show you who done it, and are asking participants to compare that with a Murder She Wrote where you aren't told. So this is a study of whether twists at the end unconditionally enhance our enjoyment...

Well, duh. Of course it depends on the whole story.

They make it sound like people would enjoy Murder She Wrote the same even after a friend gave away the ending. The misdirection in the title is the only reason why people are reading this article. Why put a hook in a research paper title?

Please don't.

Re:Let me get this straight. (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#37103282)

The funny thing is, Columbo mysteries can be ruined by spoilers as well. Traditional mysteries are in the "whodunit" format. With Columbo, you know who did it, and that they'll be caught (this is Columbo, after all!), but what you don't know is how they will be caught. If someone tells you, "Hey, in Suitable for Framing, Columbo touches the painting while in the murderer's apartment, placing his fingerprints on it to later prove the painting was there", then that episode won't be nearly as much fun.

Whoops, sorry for the forty year old spoilers.

Re:Let me get this straight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103806)

Actually, having read about this elsewhere days ago, the methodology was to take each short story, and present it in three forms: unaltered, preceded by a paragraph spoiling it, and with a spoiler paragraph inserted in the text (before the twist). Then mix the stories up so each participant only sees a given story in one of the three forms, and compare results across the board.

Of course, I didn't read the actual material used (don't know if it's available), so I'm a bit at a loss as to how one embeds the spoilers without making things horrible...

In that case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103156)

1) Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze
2) It was the sledge all along
3) Patrick Bateman never killed anyone - it's all fantasy in his head
4) Gatsby dies in the end
5) In the Wages of Fear, none of them survive
6) Zion is itself a simulation within perhaps a greater simulation
7) The Cylons don't have a plan at all
8) The real monster is MAN
9) Fight club: Calvin kills Hobbes
10) It was Earth all along

Re:In that case... (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#37103242)

3) That's one theory, but it's intentionally ambiguous. It could be the apartment owners covered it up to avoid losing property value, and as for what's-his-name being alive in Europe, the whole book/movie makes a point of how often these people confuse each other for someone else.
6) Again, that's one theory. An alternate theory is that the Wachowski brothers are frickin abysmal writers who just got lucky the first time.

And screw you for posting #8! It's one thing to post spoilers for old movies, but that one spoils, like, half the scifi movies to come out over the next twenty years!

Re:In that case... (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 3 years ago | (#37103774)

6) Again, that's one theory. An alternate theory is that the Wachowski brothers are frickin abysmal writers who just got lucky the first time.

I agree with you 100% on that one!

Re:In that case... (1)

GoochOwnsYou (1343661) | about 3 years ago | (#37103694)

Zion is itself a simulation within perhaps a greater simulation

As in the Matrix? Where did it say that?

Maybe for some people and some stories (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#37103186)

I can think of numerous times where not knowing what would happen in a book gave me an actual rush as I read it. Whether it's not knowing if a character will live or die (such as the mom in "Room"), or the gut-churning shock of a surprise heartbreak (such as in the short story "The Girlfriend"), surprises add greatly to the emotion conveyed by a good story.

Stories can be good without such surprises... I know from the start that Sam Vimes will always come out okay in Discworld, and I can still enjoy the journey. And some people might not like surprises, and may prefer to stick to stories in which the good guys always win. But anyone making the claim that spoilers never hurt a story either needs to spend more time reading, or, more likely, is just looking for an inflammatory headline to draw eyeballs.

Ancient Greeks, anyone? (2)

ThorGod (456163) | about 3 years ago | (#37103196)

Pretty sure it was the ancient greeks, anyway. They would have a chorus sing the outline of the story before the actual telling. IRRC, that's how Homer's poems start (in an academic/'good' translation).

My 2 cents (1)

beef623 (998368) | about 3 years ago | (#37103216)

It sounds like the spoilers were written into the stories that had them. Having the story spoiled as part of the story itself isn't quite the same as having someone walk up to you on the street and give away the ending. I still wouldn't want that practice to become mainstream because I happen to like not knowing what will happen. Once you've read through a story once, you can't really go back and have that same experience again.

Others would disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103224)

Spoilers ruin it for me (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 3 years ago | (#37103248)

At least a little. For instance, I read "Fellowship of the Ring" before seeing the movie, and I found I couldn't enjoy it as much because of the deviations in the story, so I decided to forgo the books until after seeing the other two, and I found I enjoyed both the movies & the books more that way.

Re:Spoilers ruin it for me (1)

Marurun (1938210) | about 3 years ago | (#37103552)

I did that with The Odyssey. All the theatrical representations made it come across as a really interesting story. After reading the book though, even if I knew the ending, it felt so much more enjoyable with all the extra back story and the fact that the final battle was described more vividly. It's amazing how much they shorten that final battle in film adaptations.

Re:Spoilers ruin it for me (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 3 years ago | (#37103596)

For decades I know already that the proper order is "first watch the movie, then read the book". As the book is often so much deeper than the movie - but then most books you don't finish in a few hours. Even in the, what is it, 8-9 hours or so for the complete LotR trilogy. Though the images presented in the movie may "spoil" your imagination when reading the books.

Quite some times I have been disappointed by watching a movie after reading the book it's based on. Even if it's years later. Indeed the images go against what you imagined from reading the book, the story is often cut short, less/no character development (in case of Hollywood often simply "no"), etc.

Spoiler Alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103252)

But the real question is, are we spoiled by the conclusions of this research? Or will future researchers get more enjoyment for the same amount of money while they rediscover the same conclusions?

Re:Spoiler Alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103304)

Forgot the spoiler. The story ends loosely like this: so later on I went into the research field of making reading more enjoyable and discovered that eating ice cream while sitting in a La-Z-Boy made the story even more enjoyable. I was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for this research, after which everyone spent time on easy chairs eating ice cream and re-reading stories which they had already read numerous times.

Just gonna throw this out there (0)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 3 years ago | (#37103272)

Snape kills Dumbledore!

Re:Just gonna throw this out there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103316)

I still enjoyed the 6th book though.

Re:Just gonna throw this out there (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 3 years ago | (#37103350)

But why does Snape kill Dumbledore?

Re:Just gonna throw this out there (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103536)

To make him dead.

Re:Just gonna throw this out there (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 3 years ago | (#37103608)

And more importantly: who are Snape and Dumbledore? (Harry Potter characters, right? That's about all I know, having only watched the first movie, and that was shortly after it was released). And why does Snape want to/have to kill Dumbledore?

Re:Just gonna throw this out there (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 3 years ago | (#37103920)

And more importantly: who are Snape and Dumbledore?

I think the latter is the king of Thailand.

Not surprising (1)

steveha (103154) | about 3 years ago | (#37103310)

If knowing the ending ruined all enjoyment, we wouldn't re-read books or watch movies again.

Still, there can be extra fun in enjoying a story for the first time and not knowing what will happen. You can only experience a story for the first time once; and if someone spoils the ending for you, you can't even do it once.

I really enjoy a good mystery story where the author plays fair with you, and you actually have a chance at figuring out who did it.

One of my favorites: the novel Too Many Magicians by Randall Garrett, available as part of an omnibus volume called Lord Darcy [] . I was blown away by the reveal, the first time I read it, but Garrett totally played fair with the reader. If you are clever you can figure out what happened.

Ironically, one of the pleasures of re-reading Too Many Magicians is seeing how deftly Garrett inserted the clues that would let the reader figure it out. Everything is there but nothing is obvious.


Re:Not surprising (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 3 years ago | (#37103592)

Books are most definitely not the same as movies or TV series. Reading is not the preferred pass time of the majority. The cheetos crowd that loves plot free, weak story, no thinking video content, as long as it full of, from the gut thinking and, action scenes, generally don't read and do not really re-watch content.

People who really enjoy reading, who use their own imaginations to fill out the content, create the visuals, sound, smells, sensations and tastes of a story, of course the journey is just as important as the end.

For people who don't really enjoy reading, any excuse to stop is acceptable.

Re:Not surprising (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 3 years ago | (#37103626)

I may be unique in it, but when looking for books in a library I tend to read the first few paragraphs AND the last few paragraphs, to decide whether I like it (and that's actually largely based on writing style - after preselecting on genre/title/etc). The books that passed that selection I've so far always liked. Now admittedly I don't read much any more these days.

Speak for yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103314)

I was all psyched to go see that Titanic movie till someone told me that the boat sinks at the end, that just ruined it for me. I never would have guessed otherwise!

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

khallow (566160) | about 3 years ago | (#37103418)

King Kong dies in King Kong. It's also interesting to contemplate how much description is needed to spoil a story. Merely noting that Hamlet dies in the play, Hamlet isn't that revealing. After all, it's a tragedy and there's all sorts of foreshadowing (such as Hamlet chatting with ghosts and a skull as well as a growing pile of corpses). One would have to discuss rather Hamlet's actions (particularly, his mistakes) and the tragic consequences of those mistakes. That's a bit hard to cram into a sentence to spoil the play.

Re:Speak for yourself (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#37103444)

Ooh, let me try: "Hamlet is a melodramatic twit whose indecisiveness leads to the deaths of everyone he loves!"

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

khallow (566160) | about 3 years ago | (#37103504)

That works pretty well. Also puts the pretentious analysis of the play in its place.

True Grit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103342)

I read True Grit, and on the first page of the book there was the "praise" for the book. I hadn't seen the movie and didn't know anything about the story. The first comment explained what happens when Mattie meets Tom at the camp at the end of the story. The part with a pit. When that part came around, I knew what was going to happen for the next twenty pages or so. While it didn't give away the end of the book, it did give away the build up to the end, which ruined it for me.

Some assholes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103372)

Some asshole ruined Brokeback Mountain for me. I had no idea the cowyboy gets it in the end.

Re:Some assholes (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37103522)

Some asshole ruined Brokeback Mountain for me. I had no idea the cowyboy gets it in the end.

So your saying he queered it for you?

Spoiler alert (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 3 years ago | (#37103416)

Turns out the researchers got picked on incessantly in school and, after some major embarrassment at their senior prom (involving diapers, shaving cream, and Velveeta), made a pact to be pricks towards the entire human race for the rest of their lives.

Sixth Sense (1)

pablo_max (626328) | about 3 years ago | (#37103422)

I bet it sure as heck would have ruined that movie for many who were surprised at the end Bruce Willis was dead.
Sorry for those that have never seen it, I hope that did not spoil it for you.

Spoiler #2 (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 3 years ago | (#37103430)

Hermione decides she's a lesbian.

Who needs peer review? (4, Insightful)

MisterJohnny (2029510) | about 3 years ago | (#37103438)

A sample size of 30? Stop the presses, boys! We have a goddamned epiphany of modern science to write about here! Thoroughly researched and everything!

Re:Who needs peer review? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103802)

A sample size of 30?

Stop the presses, boys! We have a goddamned epiphany of modern science to write about here! Thoroughly researched and everything!

Varies by person? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103476)

Maybe this is one of those things that varies by individual? I loathe spoilers, but know many who actively seek them out. All this means is that the majority of the public are the latter, not that spoilers are good.

I'm getting really tired of this type of research (2)

holophrastic (221104) | about 3 years ago | (#37103486)

"and then were asked to rate them on a scale of 1 to 10."

I'm tired of researchers thinking that how someone reports their preference has anything to do with their actual preference. I'm sure that these researchers are correct, that participants say they prefer the spoiled versions. I'm also certain that if you actually checked what they really prefer, you'd get very different numbers.

How? I haven't the foggiest. But I'd be closer to "would they pay for it" or "purchase it for a friend" or do they enjoy the rest of their day, or are they depressed the next day, or do they get a headache a few hours later. Actual life stuff.

To say that a person reports a preference usually leads to very bland, very mediocre, very simple in-this-case-stories.

It always reminds me of the listening tests between cheap and expensive sound systems. Inevitably, people report prefering the cheaper ones, but no one ever measures the headaches hours later. People forget that quality sound reproduction is more than just what you can hear. Try listening to music for ten hours, then tell me if you're in pain, or not -- that's a lot closer to the determining the quality of anything.

So, force participants to read only spoiled stories, or to read only non-spoiled stories. After fifty, I'd be crazy annoyed about yet another spoiled story. I'd never say "damn, how come none of these stories are spoiled?!"

See the difference. Forget "which do you prefer?" and go with "which can you tolerate long-term?" or "which can you live without?".

Spoilers (1)

FLuke27 (51067) | about 3 years ago | (#37103510)

If you are told before reading a story what's going to happen, that's a spoiler. Many (but not all) people find that this detracts from their experience. If the story tells you in advance what's going to happen, that's not a spoiler. It's foreshadowing, a flash forward, a frame story, or some other common device. These devices may or may not improve the story. The study tested reactions to the latter, and the researchers called it the former, and then drew totally ungrounded aesthetic conclusions about the quality of the stories.

Not everyone is the same. (1)

bertok (226922) | about 3 years ago | (#37103544)

Not everyone reads books or enjoys movies the same way. I actually have a preference for material where I don't even know the genre up front, let alone the plot! Some of the most enjoyable books for me have been random selections. One of the reasons I stopped watching TV was the obnoxious trailers, ads, previews, and interviews would conspire to ruin every single blockbuster movie, without exception.

There's been a trend recently for movie trailers to show every character, all of the funniest jokes, the plot twist, and it's resolution. That's just obnoxious.

Re:Not everyone is the same. (1)

tinkerton (199273) | about 3 years ago | (#37104276)

I can easily read a good thriller twice, my wife really considers it a spoiler if she knows how it ends. That's a sample of two and I took thrillers because they're clearcut cases. People read stories differently. Can a spoiler enhance the experience? Well, some stories, also of the suspense type, use it as a technique, starting with the final scene and then working their way up to it.

solvent green (1)

smccullough (447186) | about 3 years ago | (#37103560)

Solvent Green is people!

Re:solvent green (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103772)

And Rosebud is lead!

I am one of those who likes spoilers (1)

Oasiz (1017554) | about 3 years ago | (#37103564)

I think it has something to do with the story being easier to follow.
If it's about revealing an killer, you will likely acknowledge him/her as an major character in the movie/book instead of an forgettable minor character, thus you can follow all the occurances early on.

I also like spoilers in the sense that I can actually start observing on how/why it/things will end up like that later on. I might spot some other minor plot stuff that I would otherwise ignore. This is true to reality shows, when I know the winner I can just actually concentrate on the winner's (or could even be some other competitors) techniques and play-style instead of just trying to know all the competitors for the first few episodes.
It kinda gives an different angle on how to approach stuff, hard to explain.

Re:I am one of those who likes spoilers (1)

Warwick Allison (209388) | about 3 years ago | (#37103848)

You are in the majority, that's my understanding of exactly why stories are so dumbed-down these days.

Of course, you could just watch it twice: once with a dopey look on your face, then again with an intelligent knowing grin..

Revenge of the Sith (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 3 years ago | (#37103630)

I knew how Star Wars Episode III was going to end going into the movie (Darth Vader murders Anakin Skywalker), but it was still really exciting to watch for the first time.

Re:Revenge of the Sith (1)

GoochOwnsYou (1343661) | about 3 years ago | (#37103794)

From a certain point of view

Re:Revenge of the Sith (1)

Warwick Allison (209388) | about 3 years ago | (#37103964)

Similarly, I knew that at the end of Phantom Menace, the kid Anakin imposter would get crushed under the tracks of a massive Sandcrawler, but due to clever character development, I still really enjoyed the sight when that finally happened. I don't think I would have enjoyed the movie if I had thought that irritating little twerp was the real Anakin.

Buzzkill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103658)

That just ruined all the joy I got all those years ago when I wore proudly the "Dumbledore dies" T-shirt

Milage will vary (1)

aevan (903814) | about 3 years ago | (#37103680)

In the stuff I read, the starting cast isn't necessarily the finishing cast: a major character might not survive past the half of the book. Knowing that so-an-so survives immediately removes any tension in any scene where their life is at risk. So while 'the journey may be better than the destination', in some cases, a spoiler destroys the journey.

Idiotic (1)

Andtalath (1074376) | about 3 years ago | (#37103684)

Blanket statements from a small selection is idiotic.
Some of the very best movies and books are based around a mystery.
If you know the mystery, the whole point is ruined.

If you already knew what the matrix was, what would be the point of the matrix first half?
If you already knew who Kaiser Söze was, why would you listen to Lester for two hours?
If you knew the plan and the villain and especially how it ends, would the watchmen have even a close to as deep an impact?

Not saying that this is always the case, but movies which are supposed to keep you guessing get really, really dull if you know the secret.
That is also why so many mystery movies fail, you get the mystery before the characters and then it just gets boring since you got it in less then an hour and the supposidely smart protagonist don't get it for several days.

Foreshadowing is something different though.
If, for example, you tell people that you will know who Kaiser Söze is and you will be amazed at how vicious the man is, it won't detract from the story at all.
If you say that the matrix envelops all and that it will freak everyone out when they know what it is, it just sets the mood.
Watchmen is so full of foreshadowing that it's almost silly to point it out.

It's good to hint to people that there is a deeper meaning and an interesting twist, this helps them focus more greatly on the story, not really because they know the twist, but because you tell them that it's a story worth focusing on and people are very trusting.

I don't care how the average person enjoys a story (1)

daniel_mcl (77919) | about 3 years ago | (#37103704)

This study tries to figure out in what way the average person enjoys a story. Aside from the fact that asking people to rate things from 1 to 10 is a great way to determine their favorite numbers and very little else, even if the study were completely accurate I wouldn't care. Why? Because the average person is the guy who makes Michael Bay, Twilight, The Jersey Shore, and Justin Bieber popular. They are the people who books like "The Secret" outsell actual literature. It's already well-established that the average person is worse than useless, dragging us into the gutter and away from the stars. If this research could start to teach us to fix what's wrong with the average person then maybe it'd be worthwhile, but it's clear from the researchers' comments that they actually think that there's something *okay* about the fact that people have gotten so stupid that they can't even follow a simple plot without having the Cliff's Notes embedded into the first paragraph.

Re:I don't care how the average person enjoys a st (1)

daniel_mcl (77919) | about 3 years ago | (#37103708)

s/who books like "The Secret" outsell/who cause books like "The Secret" to outsell/

Re:I don't care how the average person enjoys a st (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103934)

Maybe "The Secret" actually *IS* worthy of praise (can't say I can judge, I don't even know what it is). Insofar as the others go, I can't say I'm a fan of any of them, but I'm also not so arrogant as to assume my definition "good writing" has any more value then anyone's. Maybe if we where talking about morality here, but we are not, we are talking about literature.

But moving on:

I assume you are using a definition of "literature" along the lines of the following (shamelessly "researched" from the OED website):
"written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit"

I think an important point with this definition is "especially." I consider this point important because it does not say "exclusively." So, since there is no DEFINED "actual literature," I think maybe it you need to clarify what you mean there. There are a lot of works some people like to call "literature" JD Stallinger springs to my mind, he oft is listed under the category, but for the love of all that is holy, give me the unabridged works of Frost and Shakespeare (both of whom, I quite enjoy), hell, I think I'll even give "Twilight" and whatever garbage Dan Brown has most recently written a go before reading "Catcher in the Rye" again. (I suppose, in fairness, I should disclosed that I was years removed from "angsty-teen" before reading this work, I read it mostly because of the amount of literary allusion in modern works, and therefor was likely not in it's target demographic. While understanding the book, I got little from it other then the knowledge to better understand when it is referenced in other works.)

Lets put this theory to the test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103762)

Scott Shelby, the Private Detective is the "Origami Killer" in Heavy Rain. If I get screamed at we know this study is bullshit.

It's up to the author. (1)

Warwick Allison (209388) | about 3 years ago | (#37103812)

It's the author that makes this choice. If they want to start with just before the climax then cut back to "7 days earlier...", that is their choice. The trouble with modern spoilers is that film and book marketing just want you to go see/read it - they don't care about the integrity of the story that the author devised. So often these days, film previews contain all the best scenes and lines, and ignore integrity completely.

Babylon 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103944)

Before the end of 3rd season you already know how it will end. But it still great watchings

BUllshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37103978)

Go back and tell my 9 year old self when he was in line to see empire strikes back and some asshole coming out of another theater shouted darth vader was lukes dad, that ruined the whole movie for me.

I hate hate hate knowing things about movies before I see them. Part of the great thing about a new movie is you never know whats going to happen. Even knowing one detail like say "woman x dies" the whole damn movie your sitting there knowing she will die and it ruins any suspense. Or finding out even something small like "Man x fights the giant robot" in like a clip from the trailer on tv, from then on the entire movie you know for a fact he wont die or anything bad happen to him until you see that same scene because you saw it in the trailer, so up until that point you know he will be perfectly fine.

Spoilers Ahead! (1)

niktemadur (793971) | about 3 years ago | (#37104054)

- Hecubus, have you seen the movie "Presumed Innocent"?
- Yes I have, Master, and his wife kills her.
- But I haven't seen the movie yet... EVIL! EVIL!

I'm more along for the ride... (1)

Zanix (684798) | about 3 years ago | (#37104104)

I think the following video basically says it as much: The World Is Saved []

I agree to some extent (1)

marqs (774373) | about 3 years ago | (#37104240)

But i still don't want some one to tell me in advance. I prefere to read the book or watch the move again some time later.

a sick society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37104246)

When it gets to the point where knowing the ending does not effect the first reading of a story (can it be said that its the first reading after a spoiler), when before each episode of a series a reminder of the previous episode is given and at the end a spoiler is given countering the cliff hanger intended to leave the viewer with some sense of anticipation, if it is true that this does not lessen the enjoyment of the populous as a whole then they seem to have the attention span only equalled by the audience in the geriatric ward television room. You can fall asleep and miss nothing, no involvement is required.

Eddings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37104250)

Obviously, these researchers never read Eddings' books that are recursively written spoilers of themselves.

Great sample sizes. (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | about 3 years ago | (#37104268)

You don't only have to worry about the number of participants tested in this type of experiment. If are making statements about stories in general; perhaps most/all of the 12 stories used where not particularly susceptible to enjoyment-spoilage.

"Enhancement" effect of spoilers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37104290)

'It could be that once you know how it turns out, you're more comfortable processing the information and can focus on a deeper understanding of the story,' says co-author Jonathan Leavitt.

This kind of sounds like the people who have to read/watch a story more than once to understand it are the types that would enjoy being spoiled. Let's face it, most spoilers are not in-depth analyses, but just declaration of events. If you are having trouble processing events on the fly, then you must be maxing your intellectual capacity.

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