Don’t get angry the next time someone spoils the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” for you — thank them, because they might have just made it more enjoyable for you.
According to research by Nicholas Christenfeld, a UC San Diego psychology professor, spoilers don’t necessarily ruin the experience of watching or reading a story, even though a majority of people claim they do.
To test the theory, Christenfeld and his team experimented with three different literary genres and two different groups. One group read a short story and responded to it, while the other group had the stories “accidentally” ruined for them beforehand.
“What we found, remarkably, was if you spoil stories they actually enjoy them more,” Christenfeld said.
Case in point, romantic comedies and mysteries continue to be popular genres, though people generally anticipate their endings.
“The point is, really, we’re not watching these things for the ending,” Christenfeld said. “I point out to the sceptics, people watch these movies more than once happily, and often with increasing pleasure.”
Christenfeld also explained that knowing what is happening in advance gives readers and viewers a deeper understanding of the work.
“If you know the ending as you watch it, you can understand what the [creator] is doing. You get to see this broader view, and essentially understand the story more fluently,” Christenfeld said. “There’s lots of evidence that this sort of fluent processing of information is pleasurable; that is, some familiarity with a work of art enables you to enjoy it more.”
In any case, if you believe that spoilers do indeed spoil things, and still want to avoid them, good luck out there.
Watch Christenfeld explain his experiment below:
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