Spoiling the Spoiler

Harry Potter fans: Spoiler alert! Snape kills Dumbledore!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Feeling upset right now? You’re not alone. A spoiler is learning the end of a story before it begins. This includes who won last night’s game, or what happened to your favorite wizard. Most people go to great lengths to avoid spoilers. This is due to the popular belief that suspense is the heart of the story, right?.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, wondered if that assumption was actually true. They ran an experiment where people read short stories of varying genres. Some were given spoilers, while others were left in suspense. It turns out, readers significantly preferred the spoiled stories over unspoiled stories!

Have you noticed that Harry Potter is more interesting when you know Snape’s secret up front? The authors suggest that spoilers reveal the purpose of the narrative. This allows the reader to enjoy the details and plot more thoroughly.

Now that you know Dumbledore’s fate, pick up the book again. You’ll enjoy it more. You’re welcome!