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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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Verbal Magical Beliefs and Children's Everyday Experience

Verbal Magical Beliefs and Children's Everyday Experience

(p.24) 3 Verbal Magical Beliefs and Children's Everyday Experience
Magic and the Mind

Eugene Subbotsky

Oxford University Press

In Chapter 3 (“Verbal Magical Beliefs and Children's Everyday Experience”), the problem of entrenchment of magical beliefs in children of various ages is examined. The development of magical beliefs in children is put in the context of a more general model of people's reaction to anomalous events, both in the sciences (Kuhn, Lacatos) and in school education (Chinn & Brewer). This allowed one to consider the transition from magical to scientific thinking in children as an instance of a “revolution” in children's causal thinking about the world. Experiments are presented that examine when and how this fundamental transition from magical to scientific thinking occurs, and whether this transition is a complete replacement of one kind of causal orientation with the alternative kind or is domain specific and covers only knowledge about the physical world, whereas in other areas (such as fantasy, play, or human relations) magic thinking persists to older ages. In contrast to most previous studies, in these experiments, special care was taken to ensure that children understood the difference between “true magic” and “fake magic” (i.e., magic tricks).

Keywords:   magical beliefs, entrenchment, judgements versus behavior, scientific thinking, magic and tricks

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