News | International
20 Jun 2019 15:38
NZCity News
NZCity CalculatorReturn to NZCity

  • Start Page
  • Personalise
  • Sport
  • Weather
  • Finance
  • Shopping
  • Jobs
  • Horoscopes
  • Lotto Results
  • Photo Gallery
  • Site Gallery
  • TVNow
  • Dating
  • SearchNZ
  • NZSearch
  • RugbyLeague
  • Make Home
  • About NZCity
  • Contact NZCity
  • Your Privacy
  • Advertising
  • Login
  • Join for Free

  •   Home > News > International

    Spoilers have little effect on our enjoyment, research shows. Is our anxiety misguided?

    If you were a Game Of Thrones fan who basically turned off the internet every Monday, your anxiety over spoilers may have been irrational, research suggests. But what is the etiquette around discussing plot details?

    Kevin Spacey's character was actually Keyser Söze. The killer on the Orient Express was all of them. The psychologist played by Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.

    The bad news: we just spoiled three well-known storylines from popular culture. Sorry.

    The good news: that might not actually diminish your enjoyment of them.

    The impact of accidentally finding out what is going to happen in a film, TV show or book before you've had a chance to consume it is overblown, according to researchers.

    If you were a Game Of Thrones fan who basically turned off the internet every Monday, your anxiety over spoilers may have been — spoiler alert! — irrational.

    But as major series like The Handmaid's Tale and Big Little Lies return, what do we know about this phenomenon of spoilers, which have become such a part of our 21st Century lexicon?

    And should a bit of academic research really overwrite the well-known norms of the water cooler?

    The anger is real, but there's little effect on enjoyment

    The first proper examination of what effect spoilers had on a viewer's enjoyment was in 2011.

    Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found not only did having a storyline spoiled not ruin an experience, it actually made it a little better. You could enjoy the sausage more once you knew how it was made.

    But that research was done using short stories, not films or TV shows with the kind of emotional investment of GoT or Marvel.

    Benjamin K Johnson, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, wanted to take a more nuance look using films.

    In a study this year — his sixth on the topic — Mr Johnson looked at horror films, which generate at least part of their enjoyment through sudden scares and unforeseen character deaths.

    The participants in that study, published recently in the Journal of Media Psychology, were shown three 90-second clips from Saw, Insidious, You're Next or Descent.

    "We [were] telling them 'we are having you watch some film clips, we wanted to know what you think of the film, here's a little bit of background information'," Mr Johnson explained.

    "And then maybe that background information doesn't give anything away, if they are in a non-spoiled [group]. Or if they are in a spoiled [group], then it might tell them what happens — 'this person dies', or 'so-and-so is revealed to be the mastermind'."

    There was not much difference in the experiences of each group.

    "We found that whether we gave someone a spoiler or not didn't really effect their suspense, their enjoyment, [or] how much they were pulled into the storyline."

    Previous studies by Mr Johnson have variously shown a slight increase or decrease in enjoyment following a spoiler — but only slight.

    That's because when we actually watched the film or show, the quality of the storytelling, how much we connect emotionally with the characters, and whether we are able to share that experience with friends or family is much more important than how the plot develops.

    Richard Greene, author of the new book Spoiler Alert! (It's A Book About the Philosophy of Spoilers), agrees that anxiety over plot reveals is not consistent with their overall effect.

    "On some occasions I've had students raise their hands if they've ever been terribly upset upon having a spoiler revealed," Mr Greene, who teaches in the department of political science and philosophy at Weber State University, told the ABC.

    "More than half the class will raise their hand.

    "I then ask them to leave their hands up if they've been terribly bothered by the plight of Syrian refugees. Most put their hands down."

    How do we know what's OK to reveal?

    Both Mr Johnson and Mr Greene said anger over a spoiled storyline was both measured in the science and justified. People feel their ability to choose has been taken away.

    Choice is crucial, because some personality types enjoy suspense more than others — shout out to those readers who flip to the last page of detective novels — and how we navigate spoilers will necessarily be nuanced and based on the individual.

    Which raises the question of etiquette.

    Mr Greene argues there's a grace period for plot details — or a "shelf-life of spoilers". The line is about one month from the release of a film. After that, if you haven't caught up, that's your fault.

    But while the fact Romeo and Juliet die in the end is universal knowledge, that famous twist in The Sixth Sense, which was released 20 years ago, still feels oddly sacred.

    That's because this is not just about timing. It's the importance of the plot detail to the story, the significance of the work, and so much more, including whether you are talking one-on-one to a friend or broadcasting to your followers.

    "There are different rules for social media depending on the forum, there are different rules for whether something is a weekly television program, a television program that releases an entire season all at once, a movie, a play, a novel," he said.

    So, while it has been decades, maybe we did commit some mild crimes against spoiling at the top of this story, given the lack of choice and the significance of those stories.

    Alternatively, maybe you'll like those movies more now.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

     Other International News
     20 Jun: Hong Kong Christians turn 'Sing Hallelujah to the Lord' into unlikely protest anthem
     20 Jun: Invasive bird species need suitable climates and other aliens to flourish
     20 Jun: Himalayas environment change 'mind-boggling', leading scientist says
     20 Jun: Kate Middleton, Prince William send flowers to elderly woman injured in Royal convoy crash
     19 Jun: Border force officer dies on patrol vessel in Torres Strait, Commissioner Michael Outram says
     19 Jun: US-Iran tensions are on the rise. Here's what that could mean for Australia
     19 Jun: Boris Johnson increases his lead to become the next British prime minister and Tory leader
     Top Stories

    A whopping 12 changes to the Jaguares run-on side for Saturday's Super Rugby quarter-final against the Chiefs More...

    Gun Control NZ welcoming Government's buy-back of prohibited weapons More...

     Today's News

    Law and Order:
    Hong Kong Christians turn 'Sing Hallelujah to the Lord' into unlikely protest anthem 15:36

    Madonna wants to meet Pope Francis 15:35

    Fringe Silver Ferns defender Kelly Jury is on the move 15:26

    Dennis Quaid thinks it is "really time" for Lindsay Lohan to make an acting comeback 15:05

    Health & Safety:
    Parents urged to be more careful when storing cleaning products 14:56

    Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua's finding her way in balancing two jobs at once 14:46

    Chrissy Teigen and John Legend share beauty products 14:35

    Law and Order:
    Wellington Police want help in identifying a man who robbed a taxi driver at knife point 14:06

    Katie Price wants to be "divorced" from Kieran Hayler "by Christmas" 14:05

    Mel B has admitted it was "disappointing" for the Spice Girls to be snubbed by Victoria Beckham 13:35

     News Search

    Power Search

    © 2019 New Zealand City Ltd