Equivoque force: psychology paper

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Alice Pailhes
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Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Alice Pailhes » January 5th, 2021, 12:42 pm

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to share our latest paper on the Equivoque / Magician's choice with you! :)

We did three studies using this force, which turned out to be even more powerful than one might think: in the second experiment, we repeated the same procedure (always forcing the same card out of four) three times in a row. Even after this, participants did not understand they were forced and felt they were the ones in control of the outcome card.

The experiments also show that whether you use consistent path (e.g. always discarding the spectator's choice or always keeping them) or not (e.g. first discarding the choices, then keeping them) does not impact the procedure (although we had some weird results when we first kept the spectator's choices and then discarded them: they felt freer for their choice...).

The paper has been published in JEP: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2020-87540-001

But you can read the preprint (not edited and less pretty!) version for free here:

https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... _Technique

I hope you'll enjoy the paper, and wish a Happy New Year to all of you!

Alice

Brad Henderson
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Brad Henderson » January 5th, 2021, 2:02 pm

There are (at least) two problems with this study.

First, the context of an experiment is different than the context of a magic performance. In the former you are dealing with people willing to be complant and there are no antagonistic power dynamics in play. Further, the experimental context changes the pressure on the participant to ‘figure things out’

Second, the question about freedom was asked at the wrong time. Of course the choices feel free when you have no idea their significance. The issue is how they feel after they realize the point of those choices.

Anyone who has performed an equivoque knows your cAn ask people if their choices felt free prior to the revelation and they will say yes - this is because they don’t have any idea how these choices mattered in the first place, so any procedure seems fine.

And to that point, the issue isn’t freedom of choice it’s the freedom of procedure.

I can feel my choices were free - because they are - and see that there is an inconsistency in the process.

Which brings us back to context.

In a psychological experiment where there is no set up or foreshadowing of effect - as in this case - ANY process is accepted as reasonable because the participant assumes that the procedure is what it is

Not so with a magic performance. Though to be accurate - yes, some people will overlook discrepancies in procedures because they just assume that’s the way the process works. But anyone looking back critically on the process seeing the result can easily determine that their path was restricted by the changing process even if they felt their choices per SE were free.

We’ve seen this. One can merely do the “ pick two “ silently remove or leave and reveal technique and it ‘works’ but this isn’t a very powerful magic effect. Compare to say Burger’s handling where it builds and each point of selection is emphasized.

So the real world implications for the study are largely nil.

Bill Mullins
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Bill Mullins » January 5th, 2021, 2:23 pm

The references at the end list a work by Goldstein, P. T. The title as listed is incorrect. It should be Verbal Control: A Treatise on . . . .

(Not being familiar with such a seminal work in the field does not bode well for the rest of the paper).

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 6th, 2021, 8:12 am

Alice, I enjoyed reading your paper. It was intriguing and well-articulated. Thank you for sharing it. Understanding human psychology is an exceedingly valuable tool in magic and mentalism - and life at large. As magicians and mentalists, as you are well aware, we can exploit the cognitive and memory deficiencies in people. In the first part of a 4-object equivoque, we can easily eliminate two objects (for example playing cards) with no risk of suspicion by asking the spectator to "touch" (as opposed to "pick" or "choose") two cards, precisely as you did in your experiments. Because they don't know why we are asking them to touch the two cards, nor do they know what will happen when they do, obviously they attach no significance to what happens after they touch the two cards, regardless of whether they are kept or eliminated.

One thing I find fascinating is that, generally, people do not notice when there is a discrepancy between round one and round two of the procedure. So, if, for example, in round one they touch two cards and those two are kept, with the other two being discarded, and then in round 2, the card they touch is discarded rather than kept, they do not perceive any inconsistency, or believe their freedom of choice was circumvented.

Are you aware of Max Maven's marketed effect (well, 3 effects in one, actually), "B'Wave"? I highly recommend that you and your associates check it out. It is a brilliant application of equivoque. It very magical and surprising, and invariably has a powerful effect on people. As it used to be said in the American Express ads, I "don't leave home without it."

Alice Pailhes
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Alice Pailhes » January 6th, 2021, 9:00 am

Hi Alfred, thanks for your comment! I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed reading the paper :)

Yes, indeed, the verbal ambiguity which is used seems to be very important. Your comment reminds me of another paper we published last year on the position/placement force in which we put 4 cards on the table and either asked participants to "push a card" or to "choose a card and then push it". And as you would expect, this subtle change made a big difference (around 60% of participants choosing the force card in the first condition vs only 35% in the second one).

You can read the preprint here if you ever want to check it:
https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... _free_will

Yes, I do know Max Maven's B'Wave, it's very clever!! For scientific purposes, we kept the experiments quite basic in order to understand how well a simple Equivoque works, but the subtleties in effects such as Max Maven's should be way more powerful... I really love Mark Elsdon Penguin live online lecture as well, in which he gives a great way of using an Equivoque!

Cheers
Alice

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 6th, 2021, 9:10 am

@MBA - not sure Max Maven would be so happy to find his B'Wave item adapted use as the props for this study. Maybe if they ask him directly.

A three repeat routine using three sets of cards where the third set is B'Wave might work for a performer though ;) :D

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 6th, 2021, 10:03 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:@MBA - not sure Max Maven would be so happy to find his B'Wave item adapted use as the props for this study. Maybe if they ask him directly.

A three repeat routine using three sets of cards where the third set is B'Wave might work for a performer though ;) :D


Jonathan, I have no idea why you interpreted my comment regarding B'Wave to Alice (whom I understand happens to be a magician, as well as a PhD candidate in Psychology) as a request or suggestion that she adapt B'Wave or its props for "this study" or any other one. In any event, Max is more than capable of speaking for himself if he believes my glowing comment regarding B'Wave somehow crossed the line. Indeed, my comment was an endorsement, and may well result in members who don't already have B'Wave picking it up. I have a friend who is fond of saying, "No good deed goes unpunished." Although things do sometimes backfire in life, even when one has the best of intentions, I never really subscribed to that theory. Have you read the study? Perhaps you would find something as to which you could make a positive and constructive comment.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 6th, 2021, 12:42 pm

@MBA I'm reading the preprint again before commenting. From stockings (page 243) to elevator buttons and thermostat controls preference and perceived agency matter.

@Alice - Thanks for sharing your recent item. And the earlier work on agency in selection.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 6th, 2021, 1:52 pm

Thanks, Jonathan, you are gracious.

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Brad Jeffers » January 6th, 2021, 11:55 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Are you aware of Max Maven's marketed effect (well, 3 effects in one, actually), "B'Wave"? It is a brilliant application of equivoque. It very magical and surprising, and invariably has a powerful effect on people.
It's interesting to me how those who perform this trick always speak so highly of the effect it has on people.
Predicting which of four queens will be thought of (without the use of equivoque or a gimmicked card) has a 25% chance of success.
Mathematically, that's twice as impressive as correctly predicting whether a flipped coin will land heads or tails.

Bill Duncan
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Bill Duncan » January 7th, 2021, 1:21 am

Brad,
The effect built on perception not math. You should see the effect Max can get out of an either/or choice.

Brad Henderson
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Brad Henderson » January 7th, 2021, 2:27 am

I see that Bill was responding to a different brad. And I agree completely with his observation. I do think there is something to the point it inspired me to make and will leave it here.

Bill Duncan wrote:Brad,
The effect built on perception not math. You should see the effect Max can get out of an either/or choice.


I didn’t say an either or choice couldn’t be effective

I was commenting on the fact that their presentation didn’t emphasize the Choice process in any way. They merely had them point and then reveal. The fact there are only two choices doesn’t give the spectator a chance to invest themselves into the process. The process has no meaning.

So - you make my point.

To make this more than a simple stunt easily explained by chance, one needs presentational elements which emphasize how and why these choices are important. I’ve seen max make this point. To achieve the power you speak of the participant must be engaged at a level less superficial than “touch two, touch one more.”

To engage the audience and get them invested in the effect gets them invested in the process and rhat creates a different mindset during the process than that experienced by subjects in this test.

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 7th, 2021, 10:35 am

Brad Jeffers Wrote: "It's interesting to me how those who perform this trick always speak so highly of the effect it has on people.
Predicting which of four queens will be thought of (without the use of equivoque or a gimmicked card) has a 25% chance of success."

That's true, but conversely, it means that there is a 75% chance of failure. But as Bill Duncan and (the other) Brad, have noted, it is a matter of the perception we create and the construct of the presentation which really sells it. Although some spectators who are very mathematically-minded might consider the actual odds, I believe they are in the great minority, and the average spectator will not even ponder the math or statistics of it. Of course, what happens in B'Wave after the "thought of" queen is shown to be face up in the packet is hugely important and instrumental to the power of the effect. If we just showed 4 actual queens, for example, and said "I am going to turn around and turn one of these queens face-up," then asked the spectator which queen we turned face up, not only would we fail 75% of the time, but even if we lucked out and got a match, I don't think it would be anything close to how powerful the denouement is in B'Wave, where, by the way, we succeed every single time. And, in the example I just gave, I think even the average spectator would be led to considering the fact that there were only four possibilities and that the outcome was just luck -- which in fact it would be...

Bill Mullins
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Bill Mullins » January 7th, 2021, 11:20 am

The fact that the chosen queen has a different color back makes no difference mathematically, but (for many spectators), it makes the prediction seem even more unlikely. Same thing with the non-chosen queens being blank.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 7th, 2021, 11:28 am

Is Dean Dill's "Blizzard" that much stronger because the other three of a kind, and then 51 of the cards not-though-of are bank?

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 7th, 2021, 6:06 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Is Dean Dill's "Blizzard" that much stronger because the other three of a kind, and then 51 of the cards not-though-of are bank?


I would be reluctant to say that any trick is "much stronger" than B'Wave. It's also a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. There's no doubt that Blizzard is a very strong trick, given that, at the end, all cards in the deck are shown to be blank except the card the spectator named in the beginning. But what is "stronger" is highly subjective. And it is a cliche by now to say this, but it is not the trick but the performer. So much depends on who is presenting an effect and, of course, the presentation itself.

I would bet that Max would get a stronger reaction performing B'Wave for a particular audience than the overwhelming majority of magicians would get performing Blizzard. I would say the same thing about Eugene Burger when he was walking this planet, or almost any trick that Bill Malone performs. He will get a much stronger reaction, for example, performing his (and partially Marlo's) version of the 21 Card Trick than 99% (or more) of magicians performing Blizzard. Nevertheless, I do believe that within each magician who truly loves magic and is willing to put in time and effort and performs as often possible for laymen, resides the potential to be great.

I have long believed that the true test for each of us is the reaction we get from laymen. It sometimes happens that a trick we thought would be a blockbuster gets a mediocre reaction, and sometimes it's the opposite; we kill with something we would not have expected to have that kind of impact. And sometimes it just comes down to a particular trick being more suited to that individual performer than another. But they will always let us know.

Jonathan, it might be interesting to start doing both B'Wave and Blizzard a lot, and compare the reactions from people, and then you will know which is stronger -- for you...

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 7th, 2021, 7:34 pm

For those who don't have or remember the routine; Blizzard starts as a force of the named card from among the four on the table.

Any ideas about getting a volunteer to tell you how certain they are about their agency in making a selection?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Bill Duncan
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Bill Duncan » January 8th, 2021, 10:36 pm

I've not seen anyone do Blizzard for real humans, so I can't speak from personal observation but such a questionable selection process seems like it wouldn't make the effect much stronger. I think the effect gains it's strength from the certainty of your "prediction".

The reason B'Wave fools (even magicians) so badly is that it breaks the cognitive chain humans use to back track a solution.

Darwin Ortiz once pointed out in the context of Peter Kane's Jazz Aces that once laymen see where the vanished card goes, they stop trying to work backwards. Max's effect put more than one "something" between the effect and the method. Every single thing people believe about what is happening is wrong. And because the differently colored back on the freely chosen card is unexpected it once again interprets the cognitive flow.

Then it turns out there were no other queens. There are three end beats, and several methods layered on top of each other.

It's not a "knock out punch", it's "rope-a-dope" made out playing cards.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 9th, 2021, 7:04 am

Bill Duncan wrote:I've not seen anyone do Blizzard for real humans, so I can't speak from personal observation but such a questionable selection process seems like it wouldn't make the effect much stronger. I think the effect gains it's strength from the certainty of your "prediction".

The reason B'Wave fools (even magicians) so badly is that it breaks the cognitive chain humans use to back track a solution.

Darwin Ortiz once pointed out in the context of Peter Kane's Jazz Aces that once laymen see where the vanished card goes, they stop trying to work backwards. Max's effect put more than one "something" between the effect and the method. Every single thing people believe about what is happening is wrong. And because the differently colored back on the freely chosen card is unexpected it once again interprets the cognitive flow.

Then it turns out there were no other queens. There are three end beats, and several methods layered on top of each other.

It's not a "knock out punch", it's "rope-a-dope" made out playing cards.


Fabulous analysis, Bill! And I'm sure that the incomparable Muhammad Ali, who as you probably know, loved to perform magic, would get a big kick (or, perhaps, punch) out of the reference to his patented rope-a-dope strategy in your analogy.

Incidentally, am I right in assuming you meant "interrupts" the cognitive flow, as opposed to "interprets"?

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Bill Duncan » January 10th, 2021, 12:28 am

Alfred. Correct. I'm getting up in years and have found I can be clever, or I can spell correctly.

Or autocorrect whichever makes me seem like I pay more attention to what I'm typing.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Bob Farmer » January 10th, 2021, 8:53 am

A laymen friend of mine offered a clue as to why B'Wave with four cards is much more effective than a trick with a full deck. He was commenting on packet tricks in general (of which I do many) and said he could "understand" how something "funny" might be going on with a deck because there were so many cards, but when there were only a few that wasn't true. Also see:

https://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S12671

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QirxVt19nI

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Brad Jeffers » January 10th, 2021, 1:50 pm

So Alice's Revenge is much more effective than Joshua Jay's Out of Sight because the use of only four cards lessens the possibility of anything "funny" going on.

Now I understand.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Bob Farmer » January 10th, 2021, 4:41 pm

At least for my friend.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 11th, 2021, 10:23 am

Early in the paper there's comment about how well giving someone the wrong card actually works in their experiments. Folks here remember the "potty prediction" trick and how to play that for an audience, right? Does this strategy work for you in your magic? I can see the long/short double card management helping in some contexts but in a direct "remember this card" context? That's quite an approach for the Recalled/Forgotten card trick plot.

The preference/destination item distracted me into thinking about tickets and a Himber folder. Now back on track (as you can see from mention of Johanssen's item.

Anyone else wonder about the <99% selection/free choice numbers? Also, the position choice item being helpful in certain ace assembly routines. ;)

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Gustav Kuhn » January 11th, 2021, 4:32 pm

we will shortly publish some data that has examined the impact that the number of choices has on how impressed people are by a prediction effect... I can't reveal all of the findings yet, as the paper has not yet been published, but the findings are pretty surprising. Our preliminary findings suggest that are just as surprised by an effect I which you ask the magician to predict a number between 1 - 4 as they are when you they predict a number between 1 - 10, or 1-100. These are still preliminary findings, but we will let you know once we have completed the study..

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 12th, 2021, 11:29 am

I will look forward to reading the paper when it is finalized. Based on the preliminary findings, in general, people would be no more surprised at the full 52 card Brainwave effect (where the named card turns out to be the only face-up card in an otherwise apparently full deck and has a different colored back) than they would at B'Wave, which, of course, employs only 4 cards. But there are so many variables, one of the most important being the presentational abilities of the individual performer, and experience is a huge factor in cultivating those abilities. To varying and lesser degrees, we are all using psychology in our presentations, but those who best understand how laymen think and perceive (which is often quite surprising) and understand how to exploit it, will be most effective in generating surprise. In other words, the tricks and methods are constants, but the variables are the performers themselves.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Bob Farmer » January 12th, 2021, 12:05 pm

Now that is a really interesting result. I hope the paper explains why that is the result.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Joe Mckay » January 12th, 2021, 1:15 pm

The Jerx had some interesting thoughts that are related to this area.

https://www.thejerx.com/blog/2018/7/1/the-tit

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby Bob Coyne » January 12th, 2021, 2:13 pm

In addition to the performer's abilities and presentational style, I think there are several other variables and that it's hard to make too many generalizations about how levels of probability affect the response or not. For example, would Out of this World with an 8 card packet be as impressive as it is with the full deck? I don't think it would for various reasons, among them being that the probabilities aren't nearly the same. And other aspects of the specific context matter. For example, the B'Wave to Brainwave comparison might be true, but perhaps that's because if feels like there's less opportunity for trickery in how openly cards are handled and how directly the selection is revealed.

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Re: Equivoque force: psychology paper

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 12th, 2021, 2:24 pm

Good points, Bob. And no, there's no way OOTW with 8 cards would begin to compare with doing it with a full deck (which, regrettably, I'm not playing with). The thing about OOTW is that it stands uniquely apart from Brainwave, B'Wave and the overwhelming majority of tricks, in that the spectator does the handling, hence pretty much eliminating trickery or trick cards as a solution (at least in their mind).


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