Don’t read this paper! Reverse psychology, contrast and position effects in a magician forcing technique.

Abstract

Reverse psychology is increasingly being used in marketing to enhance a brand’s attractivity and product differentiation. Even though this concept is well known in popular culture, very little research has investigated its effectiveness in simple decision-making processes. We investigated a magician force – technique that covertly influence the spectator’s choice –  to study how reverse psychology influences people’s selection process. The Five Card Mental Force is thought to rely on reverse psychology instructions to lead the audience member to choose a specific card among four others that are presented in a horizontal line. In four experiments, we investigated the effectiveness of reverse psychology instructions, position and contrast effects on participants’ choice. Our results suggest that reverse psychology significantly influences participants’ choices toward the force card, but that the position of the cards did not have a significant impact. Moreover, contrary to what the magic literature suggests, using contrasting effect did not enhance the likelihood of participants selecting the force card. 

Keywords

Magic, psychology, forcing, free will, attention, volition

How to Cite

Pailhes, A. & Kuhn, G., (2023) “Don’t read this paper! Reverse psychology, contrast and position effects in a magician forcing technique.”, Journal of Performance Magic 7(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/jpm.1264

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Authors

Alice Pailhes (Goldsmiths)
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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