Thu
Aug 9 2012 8:12am

Spoiled! New Research Finds We Like to Know the End

The Boston Globe’s film critic reports on an interesting paradox beween what we mean and what we say.

Two psychologists have done research proving that most people like spoilers; “In fact,” the article says, “we may enjoy spoiled stories even more than the unspoiled versions.” The original study, published in the September issue of Psychological Science, found that people preferred reading stories where they’d been spoiled on the ending—sometimes vastly preferred them.

The journalist goes on to remind us that we have favorite movies that we watch over and over—despite knowing what’s going to happen.

So ’fess up: Do you secretly love spoilers, even though you say you don’t?

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20 comments
Carmen Pinzon
1. bungluna
I'm an unapologetic backwards reader. I will read the first few chapters, turn to the back and read the ending, then go back and finish the book. I like enjoying the journey while knowing where it's taking me.
Heather Waters (redline_)
3. redline_
I don't read the ending, but I definitely tend to flip through later pages of a book to see what's coming up. I've spoiled myself but good at times and yet I still do it--this is another reason e-books are good for me, 'cause it's not so easy to do that.

ETA: And re: movies and TV, I devour minor spoilers and while I try to avoid major spoilers, it *usually* doesn't bother me too much to stumble upon those either.

So I guess for me, no matter the medium, the experience of the thing is more important than the knowledge of it anyway. Which is good, as I'm too curious for my own good.
Brianna
4. carmenlire
I have a habit of reading the last sentence/paragraph of a book. Oftentimes it's when a book is at a really boring or angsty scene. I like to be reassured that all ends well and that it's worth it
Wendy Lewis
5. wsl0612
I rewatch my favorite movies and reread my favorite books despite knowing the ending because I like to relive the best bits (which don't always include the ending). I don't really care for spoilers, I try to avoid them.
Darlene Marshall
6. darlenemarshall
I hate spoilers! Once at a signing I nearly yanked one of my books out of a lady's hands because she was going to read the last pages before buying it.

"You can't do that," I gasped. "There's a huge plot reveal toward the end! It'll spoil the rest of the story if you read it first!"

I don't know what my expression was, but she gently set the book down and backed slowly away from the table, then ran for the door.

I've calmed down (some) since those early days, but I still don't want anyone to tell me the end to anything, unless it's a romance novel and you're telling me the H&H are together at the end. I can handle that.
Smash Attack Ash
7. SmashAttackAsh
I absolutely detest spoilers, and that is the truth. I do not see the point in continuing on with the story or movie or TC show. It is quite ruined for me, the suspense and enjoyment go out the window. I become enraged when the internet spoils me! It can happen so randomly, too. I wish I could erase my memories sometimes. :)
SassyT
8. SassyT
It depends. Usually, I'm against spoilers that are forced on me (i.e. telling me who won the Women's Gymnastics All-Around Gold medal before I had time to get home to watch it). It's hard to avoid a spoiler when it's in the headlines as soon as you open internet explorer. I've now taken to staring at the web address box whenever I open IE...lol. I'll be glad when the Olympics are over so I don't have to do this.

I am okay with spoilers that I go looking for. I do this when there's a movie I didn't get to see but I'm not interested enough in the movie to bother waiting to see it on DVD. For instance, a movie where everyone keeps harping about the twist at the end. I go online and search for the spoilers so I can see what all the fuss is about.

I don't do this with books however. I like to read the book from front page to back page without someone giving away major plot points. I'm okay with someone giving me a general overview of the story (that helps me to decide whether I should bother reading it or not) but not specific details that might ruin it for me. I will skip to the back to see if there are any sequels (usually there's a blurb or something saying stay tuned for the next book).
Virginia Green
9. vloveg
I like spoilers (sometimes I need to confirm that I'm getting an HEA if they are dragging me through hell!), but it is pretty rude to peek at the end right in front of the author.
Claire Louise Thompson
10. Nefersitra
Usually I don't flick to the back of Romances - mainly because I know there's going to be a HEA and I'm reading the book to enjoy the journey there. I will admit that I check the back of Dark-Hunters books though because sometimes there's a short story there that I can read for a quick fix.

Everything else I'll read vague spoilers for (or seek them out) because I enjoy trying to guess how they will play out.
Candice Burnett
11. SleepyVamp
I hate spoilers! I will go out of my way not to watch previews of a movie I know I'm going to want to see (e.g. New Bond film) just so I can go in with a completely blank slate. Then if it sucks, I know it wasn't because I knew what was coming, it really did suck. (like "Prometheus" *shakes head*)

I will go to great lengths not to be spoiled on a book - standing in line, reading all night, making dire threats to would-be spoilers to keep away with their ill-gotten infernal knowledge...

I do reread and rewatch my faves though, so maybe I enjoy being spoiled on some level, only after I've had my first watch/read without interruption.
Keira Soleore
12. KeiraSoleore
I don't like spoilers. For must-awaited books, I go for a pristine reading experience, that is, I look at the cover, crack the book open, and start from page 1 of the story. No front matter, no author notes, no back cover copy, no reviews, and no chatter with friends about it.

For other books, I do like recommendations from people I trust about why they liked the book or why they didn't like a particular book. I rarely read reviews and then read the book. I find reviews spoil a book for me so much so that it's not worth spending my time reading the book.

But this was not always the case. I used to be an avid back-of-the-book reader in my salad days.
SassyT
13. TracyS
I never pretend I don't like spoilers LOL
I fully admit to reading the last few pages of a book before I read the whole thing. :) No secrets here!
SassyT
14. Sarah DFthe prescar
Nope, I do not like spoilers. I don't want to know what happens at the end until I get there. I do tend to read very quickly sometimes in order to get to the end. When I re-read a book, I read slower and sometimes catch stuff I missed the first time.
S Tieh
15. infinitieh
I'm all about the spoilers. I refuse to watch any movie or television show without knowing the ending (so I can decide whether I want to spend the time watching the thing). As for books, I absolutely abhor and loathe cliffhangers so I would read the last few pages of a book just to make sure. If it looks like the resolution is going to be in the next book, I would wait until said next book is out and then read both back to back (unless there's a cliffhanger in that, too, in which case I'd either wait until the whole series is done or give up on that author).

The good thing about Romances is that the ending is a given: the hero and the heroine will come together for their HEA or at least HFN. Since it's not the case for other genres, reading the last few pages is a must.
Kiersten Hallie Krum
16. Kiersten
I have a love/hate with spoilers. I wanna know what's happening when I can't get to it fast enough, but then I do enjoy watching it roll out. Sometimes, if a book is so compelling and the hour so late, I skip ahead, but it's very rare. My sister reads the endings first and lo, do I smack her for it.

BTW - love CSL and that you used that shot above. Perfect because the surprise reveal in that movie totally got me and that is a rare thing.
SassyT
17. Ejaygirl
I detest spoilers. I'm all about the journey AND the ending. There's nothing worse for me than to be reading a good mystery/suspense/thriller, puzzling through the clues to deduce the killer, only to have someone divulge the info. I belong to a couple of book socialization sites and it bugs me when people won't use spoiler alerts. They're there to level the playing field...those that don't mind spoilers can keep going and the rest of us can run in the opposite direction. It's the closest I come to advocating violence:)
SassyT
18. NC Bookwoman
In a sense, a romance novel has a built-in spoiler: you know there will be a HEA, and if you read the cover blurb you'll almost certainly know who the hero and heroine will be. But since getting there is the fun part, I hate spoilers that ruin the journey for me.

And can I just say that these are by far the most ridiculously challenging captchas I've ever seen. Are there really that many spambots out there trying to post on this forum?
Ellen Hutchings
19. shadowmaster13
I don't want spoilers I want the journey. But sometimes I want to know how I'm going on this journey car/bus/train/plane/etc. I don't want to know ahead of time what happens on it but I do want to know the shape of the story.
SassyT
20. nat_isabel
There have not been many stories that I didn't know what would happen, either because I asked a friend or because I looked. (:

Though the few books that I didn't spoil are some of my favourites. Whether it's coincidence or because of the un-spoiled read. Well...
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