Inevitable magic – reason, magic and manipulation

Goodwin Self, Benjamin (2021) Inevitable magic – reason, magic and manipulation. Masters thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Magical thinking occurs when supernatural causes, as opposed to rational ones, are assumed in events that defy reasonable probability. To investigate magical thinking, 64 adults were tested in a novel experiment where they were told they were playing an online game with opposing players. However, neither the “Game” nor the opposing players were real. It was a presentation designed to provide an illusion of game play. The “game” consisted of two sessions, each showing three opposing players (six rounds each). Half the opposing players were “seen” (pre-recorded videos with confederates posing as players) and the other half were “unseen”. To play the “game”, participants were asked to choose a card (from a set of five) and then observe the opposing player attempt to guess that card without being able to see it. Participants were then shown that one-third of opposing players displayed “good luck” (many correct guesses, defined by an above average score), one-third “neutral luck” (some correct, defined by an average score), and one-third “bad luck” (almost none correct, defined by a below average score). After the game, participants were asked to score each player on how likely they are to choose that player for a second stage of the game (in reality, there was no second stage). In the results, there was a significant effect of “luck” (with higher preferences for higher luck). There was also a significant effect of visibility (seen players preferred over unseen). Participants also completed two questionnaires to assess their disposition for magical thinking. There was a weak effect of questionnaire scores on the preference for luck. Results are considered in the context of research in anthropology and psychology.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
B. > Theses
Item ID: 33439
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2021 11:00
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2021 09:43

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