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The Phantom Vanish Magic Trick: Investigating the Disappearance of a Non-existent Object in a Dynamic Scene.

Abstract

Drawing inspiration from sleight-of-hand magic tricks, we developed an experimental paradigm to investigate whether magicians' misdirection techniques could be used to induce the misperception of "phantom" objects. While previous experiments investigating sleight-of-hand magic tricks have focused on creating false assumptions about the movement of an object in a scene, our experiment investigated creating false assumptions about the presence of an object in a scene. Participants watched a sequence of silent videos depicting a magician performing with a single object. Following each video, participants were asked to write a description of the events in the video. In the final video, participants watched the Phantom Vanish Magic Trick, a novel magic trick developed for this experiment, in which the magician pantomimed the actions of presenting an object and then making it magically disappear. No object was presented during the final video. The silent videos precluded the use of false verbal suggestions, and participants were not asked leading questions about the objects. Nevertheless, 32% of participants reported having visual impressions of non-existent objects. These findings support an inferential model of perception, wherein top-down expectations can be manipulated by the magician to generate vivid illusory experiences, even in the absence of corresponding bottom-up information.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford Oxford, UK.

    ,

    Crossmodal Research Laboratory Oxford, UK.

    Department of Experimental Psychology, University of OxfordOxford, UK; The Australian National University, CanberraACT, Australia.

    Source

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    27493635

    Citation

    TY - JOUR T1 - The Phantom Vanish Magic Trick: Investigating the Disappearance of a Non-existent Object in a Dynamic Scene. AU - Tompkins,Matthew L, AU - Woods,Andy T, AU - Aimola Davies,Anne M, Y1 - 2016/07/21/ PY - 2016/01/31/received PY - 2016/06/08/accepted PY - 2016/8/6/entrez PY - 2016/8/6/pubmed PY - 2016/8/6/medline KW - amodal completion KW - ecological perception KW - expectation KW - illusion KW - inferential perception KW - misdirection KW - modal completion KW - pantomime SP - 950 EP - 950 JF - Frontiers in psychology JO - Front Psychol VL - 7 N2 - Drawing inspiration from sleight-of-hand magic tricks, we developed an experimental paradigm to investigate whether magicians' misdirection techniques could be used to induce the misperception of "phantom" objects. While previous experiments investigating sleight-of-hand magic tricks have focused on creating false assumptions about the movement of an object in a scene, our experiment investigated creating false assumptions about the presence of an object in a scene. Participants watched a sequence of silent videos depicting a magician performing with a single object. Following each video, participants were asked to write a description of the events in the video. In the final video, participants watched the Phantom Vanish Magic Trick, a novel magic trick developed for this experiment, in which the magician pantomimed the actions of presenting an object and then making it magically disappear. No object was presented during the final video. The silent videos precluded the use of false verbal suggestions, and participants were not asked leading questions about the objects. Nevertheless, 32% of participants reported having visual impressions of non-existent objects. These findings support an inferential model of perception, wherein top-down expectations can be manipulated by the magician to generate vivid illusory experiences, even in the absence of corresponding bottom-up information. SN - 1664-1078 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/27493635/The_Phantom_Vanish_Magic_Trick:_Investigating_the_Disappearance_of_a_Non_existent_Object_in_a_Dynamic_Scene_ L2 - https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00950 ER -