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Spoiler Alert: You Don't Need Spoiler Alerts

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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.