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People enjoy endings most


January 26, 2012 - London

Moviegoers may have felt 'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2' was more magical than the previous parts because it was the last in the series, according to researchers.

University of Michigan researchers say people often view the 'last' moments of an event positively simply because they signal the end of an experience.

They found that even if the experience is painful or negative, but concludes on a pleasant note, people would consider the event a more positive experience.

"Endings are powerful," the Daily Mail quoted Ed O'Brien, a graduate student in the U-M Department of Psychology, as saying.

O'Brien and colleague Phoebe Ellsworth, the Frank Murphy Distinguished Professor of Law and Psychology, conducted a chocolate tasting experiment with 52 college students to test the theory.

Volunteers could sample five different Hershey's Kisses chocolates - milk, dark, creme, caramel and almond - but did not know in advance how many pieces they would eat or the type.

Participants rated how much they enjoyed the chocolate and described each flavour so that the researchers could record the order in which the randomly pulled treats were eaten.

Volunteers were randomly assigned to the 'next' or the 'last' condition.

In the 'next' condition, the experimenter said, 'Here is your next chocolate,' before offering each chocolate, including the fifth.

For the 'last' condition, the experimenter said, 'Here is your last chocolate,' before offering the fifth chocolate.

These participants rated the fifth chocolate more enjoyable than volunteers in the 'next' condition.

As predicted, participants who knew they were eating the final chocolate of a taste test enjoyed it more.

In fact, when asked to pick their favourite chocolate, the majority of 'last' participants chose the fifth - even though the flavour of the fifth was randomly chosen.

They also rated the overall experience as more enjoyable than volunteers who thought they were just eating one more chocolate in a series.

O'Brien says these findings may have far-reaching implications. For example, the last book or film in a series or last speaker in a symposium may receive unwarranted praise simply because they are at the end of a series.

ANI

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