Alice Pailhes - Mind control tricks: What do magicians’ forcing techniques tell us about the mind?
Alice Pailhes, Goldsmiths, University of London
We like to think that we are in charge of our decisions, but psychological research shows that many of our behaviours are unconsciously influenced by external stimuli, and that we are often oblivious to the cognitive mechanisms that underpin our decisions. Magicians have exploited this illusory sense of agency for a long time, and they have developed a wide range of techniques to influence and control their spectators’ choices of such things as cards, words, or numbers. These techniques are called forces. I will review the recent scientific research on magicians’ forcing techniques, and discuss how the scientific study of such conjuring principles provides new insights into the ease by which our thoughts and actions can be covertly manipulated.