Are Spoilers A Good Thing?

June 16, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

Studies suggest that people enjoy experiencing stories more after the ending has been spoiled for them, contrary to popular perception. How can this possibly be true? Stanley Fish explored some prevailing theories:

  • There is a certain amount of pleasure to be derived from seeing the little hints and intricacies that only become important because you know the ending. If you were ignorant then you would’ve missed them because they seem unimportant.
  • But suspense also seems to survive certainty. This is known as the ‘paradox of suspense.’
  • Competing theories that aim to explain this paradox include the suggestion that it’s merely an extension of the suspension of disbelief, or that there’s a distinction between abstract and conscious knowledge.

Perhaps this explains why some movies and books start with the ending.

To read more explanations of the paradox, how this relates to the Challenger disaster, and what John Milton has to say about it, read Fish’s musings over here.

Source: The New York Times

Via: Marginal Revolution