Spoiler Alert: You Don't Need Spoiler Alerts

Psychologists have found that great stories can't be spoiled. Guest host John Ydstie has more on a UC San Diego study that says film buffs and bibliophiles not only don't mind spoilers, they actually like them.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

JOHN YDSTIE, host: And now, a spoiler alert. Ready? You don't need spoiler alerts. Why? Because psychologists have found that great stories can't be spoiled. In a recent study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, had people read multiple versions of 12 classic short stories, penned by the likes of John Updike and Agatha Christie. Some versions included a summary that gave away the ending; others stayed as the authors had intended. The spoiled readers reported that they still enjoyed the surprise endings, even though they came as no surprise.

The mystery now is why spoilers don't always spoil. The researchers have a few theories. One is that plot is overrated. Rather, it's writing that counts. Another theory: knowing the ending makes a book easier to read and possibly more enjoyable. But whatever the reason, the researchers said you can now question whether surprise parties are worth the effort.

You're listening to NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.