(Don’t) Tell me how it ends: Spoilers, enjoyment, and involvement in television and film

Benjamin K. Johnson*, Judith E. Rosenbaum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


As more people time shift their televsion viewing and engage in online discussions about entertainment media, public concern over spoilers, the premature disclosure of narrative outcomes, has increased. This article reports results from two experiments and a survey that reassess and extend recent findings about the impact of spoilers on enjoyment. Relying on audiovisual media, the studies test processing fluency as a mediator, and involvement, need for cognition, and need for affect as moderators. Study 1 suggested that genre and involvement can moderate negative effects of spoilers on enjoyment of scenes from television and film. Study 2 illustrated that spoilers for upcoming films are more likely to trigger psychological reactance than substantially impact enjoyment and viewing intentions. Finally, Study 3 showed that spoilers for a television series adapted from novels are beneficial for audience responses if the adaptation is faithful to the source. Partial support was obtained for mediation via processing fluency, and involvement and need for affect moderated some effects of spoilers. Taken as a whole, the findings illustrate that, just as in previous experiments using short stories, spoilers for television and film appear to have quite small and qualified effects on audience responses to these programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-612
Number of pages31
JournalMedia Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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