Posted by & filed under Human Development, Language-Thought, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology.

Description: Think back to the last time you saw a magician at work and in particular when they either made something disappear or, perhaps, appear or reappear unexpectedly or ‘magically’. What were you thinking about as they made those things happen? Were you trying to figure out how they did it? Were you trying to figure out why you did not see how they did it? You likely were not thinking about the how Psychology might have been involved I bet but do that now. As the title of the editorial article in the special issue of Frontiers in Psychology linked below suggests, there is Psychology in Magic and there is Magic in Psychology. Our brain magically fills in all sorts of missing bits of information in the incomplete reports our senses provide us with about the world around us so maybe both parts of the title are worth looking into. At least read the editorial article available through the link below and then consider having a look at one or two of the other papers on the site. This may be a whole new way to look at human Psychological functioning (and a new way to look at magic as well)!

Source: The Psychology of Magic and the Magic of Psychology, Amir Raz, Jay Olson, and Gustav Kuhn,

Date: January 12, 2020

Image Credit: Frontiers in Psychology

Article Link:

As the editorial states, developmental researchers have been using magic quite a bit lately as a way of presenting infants and preschoolers with perceptual and conceptual ‘surprises’ in order to gain some insight into how they understand the world (magic can indeed be surprising). The bigger conceptual possibility is that we might benefit from starting to understand how our own seemingly stable perceptions and conceptions about the world are perhaps better understood as magic tricks played on us by our brains. Now THERE is an interesting Psychological angle to reflect upon!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things might fall into the category of the Psychology of Magic?
  2. What sorts of things might fall into the category of the Magic of Psychology?
  3. What are some ways you can think of that Psychology might change (for the better) if we were to seriously try and consider the Magic of Psychology?

References (Read Further):

Kuhn, G., Olson, J. A., & Raz, A. (2016). The psychology of magic and the magic of psychology. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 1358.

Tompkins, M. L., Woods, A. T., & Aimola Davies, A. M. (2016). The Phantom Vanish Magic Trick: Investigating the Disappearance of a Non-existent Object in a Dynamic Scene. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 950.

Phillips, F., Natter, M. B., & Egan, E. J. (2015). Magically deceptive biological motion—the French Drop Sleight. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 371.

Smith, T. J. (2015). The role of audience participation and task relevance on change detection during a card trick. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 13.

Rensink, Ronald A., and Gustav Kuhn. “A framework for using magic to study the mind.” Frontiers in Psychology 5 (2015): 1508.