Why Our Brains Love Plot Twists

Getty Images
Getty Images

From the father-son reveal in The Empire Strikes Back to the shocking realization at the end of The Sixth Sense, everyone loves a good plot twist. It's not the element of surprise that makes them so enjoyable, though. It's largely the set-up, according to cognitive scientist Vera Tobin.

Tobin, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University, writes for The Conversation that one of the most enjoyable moments of a film or novel comes after the big reveal, when we get to go back and look at the clues we may have missed. "The most satisfying surprises get their power from giving us a fresh, better way of making sense of the material that came before," Tobin writes. "This is another opportunity for stories to turn the curse of knowledge to their advantage."

The curse of knowledge, Tobin explains, refers to a psychological effect in which knowledge affects our perception and "trips us up in a lot of ways." For instance, a puzzle always seems easier than it really is after we've learned how to solve it, and once we know which team won a baseball game, we tend to overestimate how likely that particular outcome was.

Good writers know this intuitively and use it to their advantage to craft narratives that will make audiences want to review key points of the story. The end of The Sixth Sense, for example, replays earlier scenes of the movie to clue viewers in to the fact that Bruce Willis's character has been dead the whole time—a fact which seems all too obvious in hindsight, thanks to the curse of knowledge.

This is also why writers often incorporate red herrings—or false clues—into their works. In light of this evidence, movie spoilers don't seem so terrible after all. According to one study, even when the plot twist is known in advance, viewers still experience suspense. Indeed, several studies have shown that spoilers can even enhance enjoyment because they improve "fluency," or a viewer's ability to process and understand the story.

Still, spoilers are pretty universally hated—the Russo brothers even distributed fake drafts of Avengers: Infinity War to prevent key plot points from being leaked—so it's probably best not to go shouting the end of this summer's big blockbuster before your friends have seen it.

[h/t The Conversation]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Beep, Beep, Richie: You Can Own the Pennywise Costume From It

You'll float, too.
You'll float, too.
Profiles in History

Some of the most iconic moments in horror are coming home—if you’re a winning bidder. Profiles in History is launching their latest Icons and Legends of Hollywood auction on November 12 and November 13 that has a number of key props and costumes from some of the spookiest movies ever made.

For Stephen King fans, the complete Pennywise costume worn by actor Bill Skarsgård in 2017’s It promises to liven up any living space. The white satin outfit was distressed by the production team to better represent Pennywise’s sewer-dwelling proclivities. It even comes with a red balloon. It’s expected to sell for between $20,000 and $30,000.

The winning bidder gets a free balloon.Profiles in History

One of the most viscerally shocking scenes in horror movie history was John Hurt’s experience with a Chestburster in 1979’s Alien. That entire mechanical contraption, which allowed the Xenomorph to spring forward from his torso, is being offered here and comes complete with a pneumatic rig and flexible rubber tail. It could sell for between $40,000 and $60,000.

The Chestburster prop horrified audiences in 1979's Alien.Profiles in History

For a lighter touch, the costume worn by Fred Gwynne in the 1960s sitcom The Munsters is also on hand. This bespoke suit was purposely tailored small to make Gwynne—who played the oversized Herman Munster—seem larger. It even has green stains from his make-up. It could fetch $30,000 to $50,000.

Herman Munster's costume from The Munsters was sized small on purpose to make actor Fred Gwynne look larger.Profiles in History

You can also grab a complete Wolf Predator costume from 2007’s Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, estimated to sell for between $30,000 and $50,000—an expensive but very worthwhile addition to your Halloween display.

The Wolf Predator costume from 2007's Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.Profiles in History

A variety of props and costumes will also be available, from an animatronic zombie used in The Walking Dead ($12,000 to $15,000) to a ghost trap from 1989’s Ghostbusters 2 ($40,000 to $60,000) to a Chucky doll from 1988’s Child’s Play before he underwent what the catalog describes as a “psychopathic metamorphosis.” You can bid online at the Profiles in History website.