The psychology behind the magic

Have you ever wondered why you were left so baffled by a slick card trick or scratching your “noggin” at the rabbit that appeared from thin air? Well this article looks to uncover the psychology behind the so called psychic, the mind behind the magic and science behind the senses.

A magician is a lot like a salesman; their mission is to get you to believe that the fantastical feat in front of you is completely real. Using a flurry of psychologically –inspired ploys he or she could make you believe that the impossible really is possible.

Manipulation, misdirection and mind messaging are in fact what you are being subjected to. Now that we know the three major components involved in the tenacious trickery, we can begin to establish a clearer picture of each in better detail:


A well-known tool used by magicians all over is a technique called “physical manipulation.” This is usually portrayed in the form of hand gestures, object fixation etc. The idea is to focus the onlooker’s attention in a specified direction while the magician is free to work his or her magic. It may seem almost impossible considering a lot of magicians perform in such close quarters, but I guess that’s just the sign of a great trickster!

Psychological manipulation on the other hand is an incredibly subtle technique that doesn’t rely on such grand gestures to be effective. The creation of falsified solutions is a prime example; the magician will lead the onlooker(s) to think that the trick is as a solvable as a two year Old’s puzzle, when in actual fact it the magician intentionally wanted them to jump to that conclusion. As a result of this psychological mine sweep the onlookers are left completely baffled as to how the trick was actually performed.


Also known as cognitive illusion, Misdirection follows the same idea of physical manipulation. The idea of misdirecting the senses is to attract the onlooker in a false direction or sense of awareness. If we look at misdirection from a purely psychological perspective in the case of a coin trick for example; the aim for the magician is make it seem like the coin has vanished into thin air. For the trick to be successful the magician relies not only on swift hand movements but also on the fact that (according to research) our brains register at a tenth of a second in the past. This microscopic “lag” per se, is what magicians use to trick us. Our response though (slower than the action) is to predict the intended outcome, in this case the coin to fall in the opposite hand when in fact has been palmed.

Mind messaging (influencing decision subtly)

Another form of subconscious swindling is suggestion of free choice. Magicians often infer the option of free choice in their acts. This fake form of showmanship is all part of the act, to make the trick all more baffling not to mention sweeter.

Now that you’re equipped with the holy grail of magic knowledge, you’re now ready to take on the magic world no –one can trick you!

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