graduation thesis

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Postby Astrid » 02/16/10 07:24 AM

Hello there ! My name is Astrid, i come from Italy and i'm about to degree in development and educational psychology.
My dad is involved very much in magic as professional and his job inspired me for the graduation thesis I have to write.
The age range of children I ll focus on will be 6-10 years ( could be also 3-5 but maybe too young ? ).
I still don't have a clear idea of which will be the purpose of my research and the essays I'll analyse... i thought about Piaget and the definition of Magical thinking( for preschooler kids it is very possible that it rains because the sky is sad :grin: ) I thought about magic as therapy, the perception of reality.. but i don't have material to support my work and i here I am asking you help ! What do you think I could explore of the magical world of a kid ? Do you have any hint ( bibliography, scientific articles, researches ) ?

Thanks for your help !!!!
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 02/16/10 07:47 AM

There is much research in psychology about magical thinking in children, perception of surprise, guile... plenty to review and build upon.

Or perhaps you'd like to design and perform some experiments which test the "theories" proffered by those in conjuring who've written on the subject. If you take the "what would X say" model of questioning from the guile experiment and scale score the "how sure are you that (Z)" for the deception tests you might have much to offer us too :)

Okay - get thee to a library.

Best wishes from NY,

Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
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Postby Astrid » 02/16/10 09:41 AM

Thanks so much !!! I'll check this stuff out!
I'd love to design an experiment, it sounds orinal and fun! I'll talk about it with my supervisor!
Thanks again !
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Postby Andy » 02/19/10 01:43 AM

My doctoral dissertation was on "Piagetian Theory and Its Relationship to Magic." I measured the children's level of operation (preoperational, concrete, or abstract) and then showed them a series of magic tricks - tricks defined using Helms theory, e.g. vanish, transposition etc. I then used a Likert scale and had the youngster rate how surprised they were and how much they liked it. The research protocol also asked them to state how they thought the trick was done. I am pretty sure that my study is still available from Dissertation Abstracts. It is also at the library at the University of Northern Colorado. I do think that the research interest in the area has heated up given neuroscience and misdirection etc. I am a clinical psychologist, magician, and professor of psychology. Be happy to help so let me know. I have some articles which you might find of interest. Good luck Andy Pojman
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Postby Joe Mckay » 02/19/10 11:48 AM

I have come across the use of magic tricks to explore the development of children's psychology in the past. One example was the use of a 'magic duplication machine' (a die box, perhaps?) which could duplicate any object placed inside of it. The experimenters then took the child's favourite toy (such as a teddy bear) and magically duplicated it. The child then was offered the duplicated bear instead of the original. The kid seemed to always want to have their 'original' bear back instead. That is how I remember it and I am unsure what the experiment was trying to demonstrate. Anyway - I checked on GOOGLE and found something else which is similar (indeed it could be what I read originally?). If you type in the words 'MAGIC SHRINKING MACHINE TEDDY BEAR' to GOOGLE you will see a number of articles and excerpts from books which detail an experiment into children's verbal and non-verbal memory.

Hopefully some of that is of use...

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Postby Seuss » 03/05/10 12:48 PM

there was also recently a study using sleight of hand magic to determine a diagnosis of autism. the only link i can find unfortunately is to this poor blurb from abc (a slit in the rubber? I think not) ... id=8988702
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 03/05/10 01:25 PM

So if you can't engage the audience and they are watching you do lousy sleight of hand... now you can blame them for being autistic?
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Postby Edwin Corrie » 03/05/10 02:09 PM

This is not really my field (though showing a few odd tricks to my two small daughters is often an interesting experience), but in case no one else mentions it I can direct you to David Kaye's books and lecture notes, which seem to be quite authoritative:

Buon lavoro!
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