Researcher finds method behind magic

(Medical Xpress) -- A magician will have the upper hand because he knows how his trick works. But, according to Jay Olson, the magician might not know why.

A recent study co-authored by Olson, a Simon Fraser University psychology teaching assistant, investigates the behind card magic. It says that while the participant may think they have a free choice of any card, there are a number of patterns suggesting otherwise.

For example, the study found that when asked to name a playing card, most people chose only one of four: the ace, queen or king of hearts, or the ace of spades. Unexpectedly, women chose the king of hearts more than men did, and men chose the queen of hearts more than women. The magician’s trick is to exploit these patterns.

The next step, according to Olson, is to apply the findings to a broader field than just magic; to see how the mind works. Understanding how magicians are able to influence people could lead to a better understanding of memory, decision-making and awareness.

“We hope this study will promote more collaboration between psychologists and ," says Olson. "This will help us learn more about magic from psychology, and more about psychology from ."

The full study is available online from the journal, Perception.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Magic tricks reveal surprising results about autism

Oct 20, 2010

Magicians rely on misdirection -- drawing attention to one place while they're carrying out their tricky business somewhere else. It seems like people with autism should be less susceptible to such social manipulation. But ...

Recommended for you

Family dinners reduce effects of cyberbullying in adolescents

6 hours ago

Sharing regular family meals with children may help protect them from the effects of cyberbullying, according to a study by McGill professor Frank Elgar, Institute for Health and Social Policy. Because family meal times represent ...

The Edwardians were also fans of brain training

12 hours ago

Brain-training programmes are all the rage. They are part of a growing digital brain-health industry that earned more than US$1 billion in revenue in 2012 and is estimated to reach US$6 billion by 2020. The extent to which they actually improve brain function re ...

Report advocates improved police training

Aug 29, 2014

A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

User comments