It's all over the news. Spoilers do not actually spoil stories, but, in fact, enhance them. At least, that is the verdict that two UC San Diego students, Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt, came up with after conducting their study about the effect of spoilers on readers.
According to experiments carried out by Christenfeld and Leavitt, those readers who had the endings revealed to them enjoyed their stories more then readers who were not aware of the plot twists ahead.
In an interesting article in Wired, Jonah Lehrer responds to this study by stating that "Surprises are much more fun to plan than experience." According to him, readers do not actually enjoy surprises but are able to appreciate a story more when the tension is eliminated, the the focus is transferred to the story-telling. For this reason people choose to read books in certain genres, because they know what to expect from such books and therefore enjoy them more.
I'm not really buying this though. While I don't really like surprise in real life, I love them in books. My favorite books are those that provide me with unexpected twists and surprise endings. It's one reason that I enjoy Brandon Sanderson's books so much, because you never know what he'll be pulling out of the hat. I've also recently read a couple of books that I knew nearly nothing about before I started and I found that the lack of expectation really increased my enjoyment of those stories. So I am definitely not in the camp of pro-spoilers. I won't even watch Star Wars because I feel like I already know too much about it.
At the same time I have to admit that I've never actually purposely tried to spoil a story for myself, so I can't say how it affects my reading experience. After reading about this study I'm tempted to try it with the next book I read, perhaps read the last chapter first, and see how much of a difference it makes. Though this idea is so abhorrent to me I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to go through with it.
What do you think? Do you enjoy a story more when you know how it ends or, like me, do you like to know as little as possible about a book before plunging in?