Magic and Exploratory Behavior

Eugene Subbotsky

in Magic and the Mind

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195393873
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199776979 | DOI:
Magic and Exploratory Behavior

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Chapter 7 (“Magic and Exploratory Behavior”) analyzes another aspect of magical thinking: children's and adults' curiosity toward magic. It must be emphasized that curiosity toward magic does not necessarily involve an explicit belief in magic and vice versa. Indeed, a person can believe in magic and yet be afraid of it and reluctant to explore this belief. Conversely, a person may treat the possibility of magic with skepticism and yet be curious toward magic and willing to explore whether magic can be a real thing. It was hypothesized on this ground that, all other conditions being equal, a novel and unusual event elicits stronger curiosity and exploratory behavior if its suggested explanation involves an element of the supernatural (magical) than if it does not (the magical over counterintuitive physical [M/CP] effect). Experiments are presented that show that the M/CP effect does in fact play a role, and that this effect works both in children and adults.

Keywords: magical thinking; exploratory behavior; curiosity; scientific explanation

Chapter.  6683 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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