Misdirection – Magic, Psychology and its application

Kuhn, Gustav; Kingori, Patricia and Peeters, Koen. 2022. Misdirection – Magic, Psychology and its application. Science & Technology Studies, 35(2), pp. 13-29. ISSN 2243-4690 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The art of magic relies on deception and illusions to create human experiences that appear impossible. Misdirection lies at the heart of this deceptive art, and yet there is little consensus as to what this concept aims to describe. The concept of misdirection is not limited to magic, and its principles are applied to wide aspects of our lives (e.g., politics, public health, marketing). In recent years, scientists have started to examine the psychological mechanisms that underpin misdirection and new theoretical frameworks have been developed to help understand the concept itself. This paper provides two different perspectives on misdirection. In the first section we will discuss its use in magic and examine some of the key features involved in using misdirection to create magical illusions. This section will examine some common misconceptions of misdirection. The second section will provide a psychological perspective that discusses the key psychological mechanisms that are involved in misdirection (perception, memory, reasoning). The third section examines the uses of misdirection in other domains. This paper aims to provide a clearer understanding of how misdirection is used in magic which can serve as the basis for its use in other domains, such as public health.

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misdirection, magic, deception, attention, psychology, cognition

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1 February 2022Accepted
15 May 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Mar 2022 16:51

Last Modified:

25 May 2022 21:04

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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