So, are you one of those people that's inadvertently given away the crucial details of a previously-unseen movie in conversation? Or maybe you've just driven past Harry Potter midnight-release parties screaming the ending (if you one of those people, I will never, ever forgive you). But, a new study apparently shows you just did your newfound enemies a favor! Researchers have found that being aware of a story's ending actually increased the reader's enjoyment of that story.
A small study done by the University of California, San Diego, had thirty participants reading two different versions of stories by heavy-hitting authors like John Updike, Roald Dahl, Anton Chekov, Agatha Christie and Raymond Carver. One version was presented in its original form, and the other had a spoiler paragraph either as a prologue or incorporated into the story as though it were a part of it. The stories all fell into one of three "twist categories:" ironic-twist, mystery, and literary.
It turns out that the subjects significantly preferred the spoiled versions of all three groups, though their enjoyment of the literary twist, both spoiled and unspoiled, was least overall. Go figure.
Obviously, figuring out why this is veers well into the realm of speculation, but one of the authors thinks it's because plot can be an irrelevant detail when it comes to stories.
Nicholas Christenfield, a UC San Diego professor of social psychology:
"Plots are just excuses for great writing. What the plot is is (almost) irrelevant. The pleasure is in the writing… Monet's paintings aren't really about water lillies."
So there you have it. Oh and by the way (Spoiler Alert!) Snape kills Dumbledore, the murderer in the Rue Morgue was a monkey, and Soylent Green is people!