Magic tricks are deceiving, yet we can readily generate an explanation for a trick that we do not fully understand. In three experiments, we show that the way people explain a mental magic trick depends on their individual cognitive style. Analytical thinkers tend to generate explanations that appeal to rationality, such as using physical props to accomplish an effect. In contrast, intuitive thinkers are more likely to generate irrational explanations that accord with the magician's provided backstory, such as using subliminal cues to guide a spectator's choices. We observe this effect when measuring a participant's cognitive style using the Cognitive Reflection Test, and also when manipulating a participant's cognitive style using a simple narrative prompt.
- Cognitive style
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)