The role that social cues play during magic tricks - Deepstash

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A Magician Explains Why We See What’s Not There

The role that social cues play during magic tricks

In the vanishing ball illusion, a study found that when the magician pretends to throw the ball in the air, and his gaze follows the imaginary trajectory of the ball, almost two-thirds of the participants will be convinced that they had seen the ball move up. If his gaze did not follow the imaginary ball, the illusion was far less effective.

This illustrates that the illusion is mostly driven by expectations. Our eyes find it difficult to track fast-moving objects. Looking at the ball is only possible when we can predict where it will be in the future.

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"Pareidolia"
"Pareidolia"

A team of neuroscientists believes there might be a meaningful link between creativity and seeing faces in clouds.

The scientific term for seeing familiar objects in random images, abstract things, or patterns is 'pareidolia.' Pareidolia has been reported in sounds too.

Studying involuntary imagination

At first, pareidolia (seeing shapes in clouds and in other inanimate objects) was seen negatively rather than a sign of creativity. It was even considered to be a symptom of psychosis or dementia.

In 1895, French psychologist Alfred Binet - known for his work on IQ tests - suggested that inkblots could be used in psychological research to study differences in involuntary imagination. This idea was further developed, resulting in inkblots to investigate people's personality and assess their psychological state.

Imagination is a sign of creativity

The creative aspect of pareidolia became known in the 19th century with the practice of 'klecksography' - the art of making images from inkblots.

Writer Victor Hugo experimented with folded papers and stains by holding his quill upside down to use the feather-end as a brush. Another practitioner of klecksography, German poet Justinus Andreas Christian Kerner, published Kleksographien (1890), a collection of inkblot art with accompanying short poems about the objects that can be noticed in the images.

What influences our perception
  • What we pay attention to and context
  • Expectations and stereotypes 
  • Motivation. We tend to see what we want to see.
Motivated perception

It is the idea that we see what we want to see.

It’s similar to another concept — motivated reasoning, where we come to conclusions we’re predisposed to believe in.

Naive realism

It is the feeling that our perception of the world reflects the truth.

Of all our senses, we tend to trust our eyes the most. And we believe that the way we see the world is the way that the world really is.

A preference for circles
A preference for circles

Over the years, research has shown that individuals tend not only to prefer contoured lines over straight ones but also to associate more joyful feelings with the first ones.

Furthermore, a recent study has proven that people's preference for curved real objects has not changed a bit. We tend, it seems, to identify angular shapes with fear, aversion, and dislike, while circles bring to our mind feels like safety and peacefulness.

Favoring the round-shaped items

According to research in the field, people have the tendency to associate happiness with circles and anger with triangles.

This seems to find its meaning in individuals' attraction to the roundness of a child's face, as, involuntarily, we associate innocence and honesty to round-shaped items.

The attraction of the circle

Taking into account that our own eyes function based on the existence of spheres, such as the iris or the pupil, there is no wonder that we all are, as individuals, prone to choose circular lines over straight ones.