The art of magic in the lab

magic

Psychologists use magic to study the illusory feeling of free choice

Most of the time, when a magician asks you to “pick a card” she makes it feel as though you have a free choice, but you don’t really. The authors of a new paper say this is a microcosm for many real-life situations in which we feel free to choose, but in fact our choices are heavily influenced and constrained. Jay Olson, a magician and psychologist, and his colleagues, have put a classic card trick technique under the spotlight as a way to study the psychology behind this experience of illusory free choice. For each of 118 participants approached on the street or on campuses, Olson “riffled” through a pack of cards before asking the participant to “pick a card”. ….[READ]

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