How Magic Changes Our Expectations About Autism

Kuhn, Gustav; Kourkoulou, A. and Leekam, S. R.. 2010. How Magic Changes Our Expectations About Autism. Psychological Science, 21(10), pp. 1487-1493. ISSN 0956-7976 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In the vanishing-ball illusion, the magician’s social cues misdirect the audience’s expectations and attention so that the audience “sees” a ball vanish in the air. Because individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are less sensitive to social cues and have superior perception for nonsocial details compared with typically developing individuals, we predicted that they would be less susceptible to the illusion. Surprisingly, the opposite result was found, as individuals with ASD were more susceptible to the illusion than a comparison group. Eye-tracking data indicated that subtle temporal delays in allocating attention might explain their heightened susceptibility. Additionally, although individuals with ASD showed typical patterns of looking to the magician’s face and eyes, they were slower to launch their first saccade to the face and had difficulty in fixating the fast-moving observable ball. Considered together, the results indicate that individuals with ASD have difficulties in rapidly allocating attention toward both people and moving objects.

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Additional Information:

Times Cited: 2 Kuhn, Gustav Kourkoulou, Anastasia Leekam, Susan R.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Research Office > REF2014



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Date Deposited:

19 Jun 2013 10:55

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 09:29

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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