From: NPR

Spoiler Alert! The Psychology Of Surprise Endings

Writers and filmmakers hoping to hoodwink their fans with plot twists have long known what cognitive scientists know: All of us have blind spots in the way we assess the world. We get distracted. We forget how we know things. We see patterns that aren’t there. Because these blind spots are wired into the brain, they act in ways that are predictable — so predictable that storytellers from Sophocles to M. Night Shyamalan have used them to lead us astray.

In recent years, some scientists have begun to ask, can stories serve as a kind of brain scan? If a plot twist works by exploiting our biases and mental shortcuts, can observing the mechanics of a good story reveal something important about the contours of the mind?”

“Stories are a kind of magic trick,” says cognitive scientist Vera Tobin. “When we dissect them, we can discover very, very reliable aspects of those tricks that turn out to be important clues about the way that people think.”

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Although I am not often hoodwinked by writers, I much prefer programs like Bosch, Ms. Maisel, and High Castle because the authors challenge my brain so I get more engaged (distracted) by the amusement that they aim to offer me. I mention Maisel because it is a comedy that shows all genres can infuse amusing twists and turns that keep you generating hypotheses about the next scene or episode. It matters not if I guess right or not. That is beside the point. It is that I know I am being set up – I just do not know what.

This comment is a humble just-in-case reminder for those interested in 40 years of psychological and biofunctional science research on surprise-ending stories. Please search these or related keywords in google-scholar. The overall story may be found in:

Iran-Nejad, A., & Bordbar, F. (2017). Biofunctional understanding and conceptual control: Searching for systematic consensus in systemic cohesion Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Science, 8(1702). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01702.

Iran-Nejad, A., & Irannejad, A. B. (2017b). Conceptual and biofunctional embodiment: A long story on the transience of the enduring Mind. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(1900). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01990

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