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Magic and the MindMechanisms, Functions, and Development of Magical Thinking and Behavior$
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Eugene Subbotsky

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195393873

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393873.001.0001

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Magical Beliefs and Psychological Defense

Magical Beliefs and Psychological Defense

(p.115) 10 Magical Beliefs and Psychological Defense
Magic and the Mind

Eugene Subbotsky

Oxford University Press

Chapter 10 (“Magical Beliefs and Psychological Defense”) considers defense strategies that people use to protect themselves against magical suggestion. Indeed, being totally vulnerable to suggestion would mean living in an unsafe world that lacks order and predictability. Experiments are presented and discussed that show some of these strategies. For example, cognitive defense against magical suggestion is demonstrated in the experiment when participants involuntarily distort the order of events that happened in their full view just a few seconds before, with the aim to discard a magical (impossible) event and reinterpret it as an ordinary (possible) event. A more effective emotional defense was observed when participants (graduate and undergraduate students) were asked to select a practical task that they would like to improve on (such as writing essays or speaking foreign languages) and then it was magically suggested that they would improve on it. In 2 weeks' time, in the magical suggestion condition, a significantly larger number of participants reported having no improvement than in the control condition, in which no suggestion had been made.

Keywords:   magical beliefs, psychological defense, suggestion, dreams, subconsciousness

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