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Magic Trick Reveals Gaze Direction and Attention Aren’t Always Linked.

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By dannywright42
Words 393
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Magic trick reveals Gaze Direction and Attention aren’t always linked.

Psychologist Gustav Khun focuses particularly on the attention and awareness of the human mind, especially how attention and eye movements are influenced by social factors.

Kuhn and his colleagues created a laboratory style experiment, where they played a clip of a short magic trick to some university students, (who were gathered together through a volunteer sampling method request), in which the magician appears to make a cigarette and lighter disappear. The cigarette "disappears" when the magician drops it into his lap while directing the audience's attention to his other hand. Recordings that were taken of the students' eye movements showed that whether or not they spotted the cigarette drop, and therefore realised how the trick was done, had nothing to do with their eye position at the moment of the drop. In contrast to this, the students' eye position after the cigarette drop was associated with whether they saw it. Specifically, those students who, after the drop, moved their eyes more quickly to the now empty cigarette hand were more likely to report having seen the cigarette fall.
The likely explanation is that those students who, post drop, made the faster glance to the cigarette hand had already shifted their attentional spotlight (The experience of ‘looking out of the corner of the eye’, but not yet focussing with their actual eyes) to the cigarette, in time to see it drop. This would be consistent with previous research showing that our eye movements to a given location are pushed by an attentional shift to that same spot. This means that for the trick to work, the magician needs to misdirect the audience's hidden attentional spotlight, not necessarily their overt eye position.

Out of all the studies I researched, this study stood out to me particularly well as the…...

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