Not Just a Trick: A survey study exploring how ‘exposing’ exhibition visitors to science of magic concepts impacts their appreciation of magic

Abstract

Deception, secrecy, and mystery are inexorably intertwined with the idea of performance magic. Magicians traditionally do not reveal their secret methods to non-magicians. The recent rise in scientific research on magic raises important issues about the impact that the dissemination of magic knowledge has on people’s appreciation of magic.  This study used a survey to assess how people’s appreciation of magic was impacted by a magic exhibition designed to highlight and reveal the psychological mechanisms that underpin magic. Visitors to the exhibition were asked to rate the impact of the exhibition on a range of measures assessing people’s interest and appreciation for magic. The results revealed a significantly positive change in all dimensions. The qualitative analysis reports on things that people like and dislike about magic as well as the impact that magic has on people’s appreciation for magic.  Despite magicians’ traditional fear that revelations related to magic secretes might rob magic audiences of their sense of wonder, our results indicate that an engaging exhibition about the science that underpins some magical experiences can actually enhance peoples’ stated appreciation for magic. 

Keywords

magic, exposure, exhibition, aesthetics, secrets

How to Cite

Medeiros, G., Tompkins, M., Bagienski, S. & Kuhn, G., (2022) “Not Just a Trick: A survey study exploring how ‘exposing’ exhibition visitors to science of magic concepts impacts their appreciation of magic”, Journal of Performance Magic 7(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/jpm.1260

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Authors

Gabriel Medeiros (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Mathew Tompkins (Lund University)
Steve Bagienski (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Gustav Kuhn (Goldsmiths, University of London)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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