Why does magic work? What is the psychology behind it?

At McGill University and the University of British Columbia we are trying to answer these questions.

We study the psychology of magic: how magic works in the mind.


For magicians

Are you a magician? If so, please take part in a 3 to 5 minute survey looking at the interaction between psychology and magic.

For researchers

Do you do research in the psychology of magic? We have organised a special issue on the topic in Frontiers in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. The deadline for submissions is 31 Aug 2014.

Current research: Card magic

What are the most commonly chosen cards? How do magicians influence choices?

We conducted experiments examining a common tool used by magicians: playing cards. This is the first study to examine the psychology of card magic.

Our paper, “Perceptual and Cognitive Characteristics of Common Playing Cards”, has been published (open access) in the journal Perception.

Coming soon: Decision making and persuasion in magic

Magicians can reliably yet subtly influence decisions. How does this work? Why do people not notice the influence?

As a joint project between the UBC Visual Cognition Lab and the McGill Raz Lab, we applied our research on card magic to examine how people make decisions. This paper will be published later in 2014.