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: Researchers use computer-based treatment for children with anxiety

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New book examines the known and unknown about OCD

13 hours ago

A new and thorough overview of a disturbing behavioural condition that will affect 2.3 per cent of the UK population in their lifetime has been written by University of Sussex researchers.

Ibuprofen relieves women's hurt feelings, not men's

15 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—For years, researchers have known that physical pain relievers such as ibuprofen can also help ease emotional pain, but new research suggests that ibuprofen has contrasting effects on men ...

User comments : 0