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The fluency of spoilers: Why giving away endings improves stories

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Spoilers, despite their name, seem to increase enjoyment of stories. This could be because readers enjoy reading expected endings, because knowing the ending allows them to appreciate aesthetic elements instead of guessing what will happen, or because knowing the ending increases fluency by enabling readers to correctly interpret clues and events. We conducted three experiments to test these hypotheses. Experiment 1 collected ratings at the midpoints of anthologized stories, and determined that readers experience greater pleasure even before reading the end of spoiled stories. This spoiler benefit was mediated by processing fluency, and not by appreciation of aesthetic elements. Experiment¬†2 found that spoilers similar to those in Experiment 1 do not increase ease of reading¬†— or pleasure¬†— for very-easy-to-read stories. Experiment 3 found, however, that very simple spoilers could increase the pleasure of easy-to-read stories.
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Keywords: fiction; literature; narrative; pleasure; reading; spoilers

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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