Chapter

Magical Thinking and Children's Cognitive Development

Eugene Subbotsky

in Magic and the Mind

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195393873
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199776979 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393873.003.0004
Magical Thinking and Children's Cognitive Development

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In Chapter 4 (“Magical Thinking and Children's Cognitive Development”), the relationships between children's magical thinking and more traditional aspects of their cognitive development are discussed. Indeed, despite the fact that multinational industries (such as toy production and entertainment) exploit and support magical beliefs in children and many TV programs for children show magical characters, surprisingly little is known about the effects of magical thinking and magical beliefs on children's cognitive and social development. Is involvement in magical thinking confined to the department of entertainment, or has it also to do with more practical aspects of children's lives, such as learning and social communication? It is hypothesized that magical thinking does indeed positively affect children's cognitive development, by enhancing creative divergent thinking in children. Experiments are presented that demonstrate that exposing children to a movie containing strong magical effects increased their performance on creativity tasks to a significantly larger extent than did exposing a control group of children to a similar movie but without any reference to magic.

Keywords: magical thinking; creativity; imagination; children's cognitive development

Chapter.  4127 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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