Friday, January 19, 2007

From Poirot to life: the reason for mistery to work out

I grew up watching Perry Mason solving his mystery crimes on court, and Poirot doing the same on an abandoned house in some eastern nation or in a train moving on... Just like life: moving on towards an incredible and surprising ending.

We never knew who was the "one", we never new it because we didn't have all those infos an intels Mason's people gave him during court or Poirot discovered somewhere in between-scenes. But, we could guess!

When Pierce Brosnam played Murder 101 he taught me that the thrill of mystery stories is based on one simple premise: surprise!

And now, according to a U.S.-German study – with Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick of Ohio State University and Caterina Keplinger of Hanover University as the co-authors –, understanding mystery novels (on paper or screen) has to do with our self-esteem: the lesser our self-esteem is, the more we need to have our ideas confirmed by our surrounding environment, in this case, by the movie that makes us feel smarter. So, if we believe that one character is the responsible for the mystery and it really happens: we get happier and, perhaps, that could even help the improvement of our self-perception as capable and smart beings.

But we can't have movies that we know what will happen at the end, like the cult movie Star Wars 3. The authors seem to agree that we, as humans, enjoy some amount of surprise: everyone seems to enjoy mystery stories, specially those in which we don't have many clues of how the plot will end: just like life!

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