Chapter

Magical Thinking and Imagination

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/9780195393873.003.0008
Magical Thinking and Imagination

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In Chapter 8 (“Magical Thinking and Imagination”), the issue of how magical thinking works in the domain of nonphysical (imagined) reality is analyzed. The chapter begins with an overview of studies on children's understanding the difference between physical and mental objects, and then continues with experiments on children's and adults' preparedness to accept that real or imagined objects could be changed by a magic spell. The most interesting result of these experiments was that, unlike children, adults reported that magical manipulations had little effect on both real and their imagined physical objects, but had a strong effect on their imagined fantastical objects. Further experiments showed that participants' personally significant imagined (PERSIM) objects, such as their images of their future lives, were particularly strongly affected by the experimenter's magical manipulations. This result fits within the domain of “mind-over-mind” type of magic.

Keywords: magical thinking; magical beliefs; imagination; mental objects; permanence; fantasy and reality

Chapter.  6830 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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