A framework for using magic to study the mind

Rensink, Ronald A. and Kuhn, Gustav. 2015. A framework for using magic to study the mind. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1508. ISSN 1664-1078 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Over the centuries, magicians have developed extensive knowledge about the manipulation of the human mind—knowledge that has been largely ignored by psychology. It has recently been argued that this knowledge could help improve our understanding of human cognition and consciousness. But how might this be done? And how much could it ultimately contribute to the exploration of the human mind? We propose here a framework outlining how knowledge about magic can be used to help us understand the human mind. Various approaches—both old and new—are surveyed, in terms of four different levels. The first focuses on the methods in magic, using these to suggest new approaches to existing issues in psychology. The second focuses on the effects that magic can produce, such as the sense of wonder induced by seeing an apparently impossible event. Third is the consideration of magic tricks—methods and effects together—as phenomena of scientific interest in their own right. Finally, there is the organization of knowledge about magic into an informative whole, including the possibility of a science centered around the experience of wonder.

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attention, cognition, magic, methodology, neuroscience, visual perception, wonder

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2 February 2015Published
7 December 2014Accepted

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Date Deposited:

29 May 2015 16:52

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:03

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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