Scientists study mystery stories

Jan 18, 2007

A U.S.-German study suggests people with lower levels of self-esteem prefer mystery crime stories that confirm their suspicions in the end.

However, Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick of Ohio State University, the study's co-author, says people with higher self-esteem enjoy a story that goes against their expectations, thereby providing a surprise ending.

"Personality plays a role in whether a person wants to be confirmed or surprised when they read mysteries," said Knobloch-Westerwick. "People with low self-esteem like to feel they knew all along who committed the crime, probably because it makes them feel smarter."

But she and Caterina Keplinger of Germany's Hanover University agree everyone seems to enjoy mystery stories in which there are no strong hints of how the story will end.

Although researchers know little about what makes various forms of crime fiction popular or appealing, the genre draws large audiences to novels, TV programs and movies. The study, said Knobloch-Westerwick, was an attempt to discover more about how such a classic genre of fiction appeals to various people.

The research was recently detailed in the journal Media Psychology.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Inadequate mental health care for blacks with depression and diabetes, high blood pressure

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scalping can raise ticket prices

2 hours ago

Scalping gets a bad rap. For years, artists and concert promoters have stigmatized ticket resale as a practice that unfairly hurts their own sales and forces fans to pay exorbitant prices for tickets to sold-out concerts. ...

Tropical Storm Genevieve forms in Eastern Pacific

4 hours ago

The seventh tropical depression of the Eastern Pacific Ocean formed and quickly ramped up to a tropical storm named "Genevieve." NOAA's GOES-West satellite captured an infrared image of the newborn storm ...

Recommended for you

What sign language teaches us about the brain

8 hours ago

The world's leading humanoid robot, ASIMO, has recently learnt sign language. The news of this breakthrough came just as I completed Level 1 of British Sign Language (I dare say it took me longer to master signing ...

Why do men prefer nice women?

9 hours ago

People's emotional reactions and desires in initial romantic encounters determine the fate of a potential relationship. Responsiveness may be one of those initial "sparks" necessary to fuel sexual desire and land a second ...

Study reveals how to be socially successful

9 hours ago

Romantic, personal and professional relationships are fraught with danger, but a University of Queensland researcher has found the secret to interacting successfully with others in such settings.

User comments : 0