When it comes to the incredible illusions of David Blaine, Dynamo and Derren Brown, it can be difficult to believe your eyes – and maybe you shouldn’t either.
A new study has found that magicians may subconsciously try to make their viewers blink so they miss the deception that would give away their trick.
This is because they have been found to amplify their own blinks during these moments, which might encourage their audience to do the same.
lead author dr Anthony Barnhart was a former professional magician himself and was made aware of this blinking tendency by other cast members.
He and colleagues at Carthage College in Wisconsin, USA, tested the theory by recording magicians performing a coin trick and noting when they blinked.
They found that performers increased their blinking during pretense acts, but only when standing in front of a video audience.
A new study has found that magicians might subconsciously try to make their viewers blink so they’ll miss a deception that would give their trick away. Pictured: dynamo
Magic show viewers tend to blink all at once, a sign that their attention has lapsed. The synchronized blinking particularly occurred at moments when the performer was performing secret actions that would give away the trick. It has been suggested that magicians know when the audience’s attention lapses, so they do the things they want unnoticed. Pictured: Derren Brown
MAIN RESULTS OF THE STUDY
- Mages blink more when performing “handles” or deceptive actions that would give away their trick
- They blink more when performing harder tricks and when less visual information is available
- They only blink in those moments when they are in a performance situation in front of an audience
dr Barnhart told PsyPost: “This was surprising and not what the magic world had predicted.
“Our pattern of results points to a potentially interesting phenomenon: we suspect that magicians blink their eyes when performing sleight of hand tricks to encourage their audience to do the same, thereby blinding the audience to any evidence of the magician’s shenanigans make.”
A 2016 study found that viewers of a magic show tend to blink all at once, a sign their attention is relaxed.
The synchronized blinking particularly occurred at moments when the performer was performing secret actions that would give away the trick.
It has been suggested that magicians know when the audience’s attention lapses, so they do the things they want unnoticed.
Therefore, magicians may mislead their audience by encouraging them to blink and relax their attention in these moments.
However, you could also inadvertently sabotage yourself, as Dr. Barnhart said he knew many magicians practice their tricks in front of the mirror.
The magician might blink at the crucial moments of deception while learning a trick and will not be aware if they performed it correctly or at a believable level.
dr Barnhart wanted to see if there was any evidence that practicing magicians were committing “deep self-deception.”
This is when they are aware that they don’t know if they can do a trick, but push that truth out of their awareness.
The researchers analyzed video footage of magicians performing a coin trick and categorized frames according to whether or not they were practicing sleight of hand. Whether the magicians’ eyes were open or closed was also noted, and then the frames were analyzed to see if their attitude or the stage of their trick affected their blinks (stock image).
To do this, the researchers recruited 11 magicians who each practiced magic for between six months and 50 years.
They all learned, through a video tutorial, a magic coin trick involving ten “handles” – quick, deft hand movements required to complete the trick and fool a spectator.
A week later, they were all filmed performing the trick four times; twice in a “rehearsal” shot in front of a mirror and twice in a “performance” shot in front of the camera.
The researchers then analyzed the footage and categorized frames based on whether or not the magicians were practicing sleight of hand.
Whether the magicians’ eyes were open or closed was also noted before the frames were analyzed to see if their attitude or the stage of their trick affected their blinking.
The results, published in Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, showed that the wizards increased their blinking when they performed skillful hand gestures.
However, this was only true for the “Performance” setting, suggesting that blinking was not used to fool one’s own performance.
Rather, it serves to encourage the audience to blink, to make the trick believable and to protect the processes behind it from public knowledge.
They also found that the magicians blink more frequently when performing more difficult deceptive acts, as well as when visual information is at its scarcest.
“Although blinking during the performance might serve as a ‘tell’ to the audience, it might also give the audience a nudge that they’ve reached a moment when the visual stream contains very little useful information,” said Dr. Barnhart to PsyPost.
In the future, the researchers want to examine whether a magician’s blinking has an influence on the blinking of his audience and thus on their perception of the trick.
Blink and you will miss it! Secret trick allowing magicians to unknowingly fool their audience is revealed
Sleight of hand is one of the oldest techniques used by magicians to fool their audience, but it seems they have another trick up their sleeve to help them fool viewers.
Performers have been found to unknowingly make their audience blink at key moments during a show, causing them to miss key actions that could show how an illusion was made.
New research has revealed that the secret behind a magician’s pattern lies in their ability to put onlookers at ease.
It turns out that this strategy causes viewers to lose focus and blink more often.
That means when the magician moves their hands quickly to disguise a trick, many viewers actually closed their eyes, the researchers say.
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