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The Other Side of Magic: The Psychology of Perceiving Hidden Things

Abstract : When magicians perform spectacles that seem to defy the laws of nature, they do so by manipulating psychological reality. Hence, the principles underlying the art of conjuring are potentially of interest to psychological science. Here, we argue that perceptual and cognitive principles governing how humans experience hidden things and reason about them play a central role in many magic tricks. Different from tricks based on many other forms of misdirection, which require considerable skill on the part of the magician, many elements of these tricks are essentially self-working because they rely on automatic perceptual and cognitive processes. Since these processes are not directly observable, even experienced magicians may be oblivious to their central role in creating strong magical experiences and tricks that are almost impossible to debunk, even after repeated presentations. We delineate how insights from perceptual psychology provide a framework for understanding why these tricks work so well. Conversely, we argue that studying magic tricks that work much better than one intuitively would believe provides a promising heuristic for charting unexplored aspects of perception and cognition.
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Contributeur : Lilloa Université de Lille <>
Soumis le : mardi 12 novembre 2019 - 08:02:58
Dernière modification le : mardi 3 novembre 2020 - 10:26:01

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Vebjørn Ekroll, Bilge Sayim, Johan Wagemans. The Other Side of Magic: The Psychology of Perceiving Hidden Things. Perspectives on Psychological Science, Association for Psychological Science, 2017, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12 (1), pp.91-106. ⟨10.1177/1745691616654676⟩. ⟨hal-02358565⟩



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