5 votes

Study: Magicians’ priming techniques are effective at influencing choice

3 comments

  1. skybrian
    Link
    From the article: [...]

    From the article:

    Pailhès and her co-author, Gustav Kuhn, recruited 90 volunteers and randomly allocated them to two groups: one group who watched a live performance of the experiment, and one who watched a videotaped version. Pailhès performed the priming herself, using Brown's method to focus on the number of the card she wished the participants to choose (three) and the suit (diamonds). Rather than doing so in the lab, she sat at a table in the Goldsmith cafeteria, facing the subjects, and had them either watch her for instructions, or watch a video of her delivering the same instructions on a laptop with headphones.

    [...]

    The authors found that 17.8 percent of the subjects chose the three of diamonds, while 38.9 percent chose a three (among all four suits) and 33.3 percent chose a diamond (among all available cards in that suit). Subjects most commonly chose the three of diamonds, followed by the three of hearts. As a control, the experiment was repeated by having participants watch a video of the same performer (Pailhès) and script, minus any priming gestures. Subjects chose the three of diamonds, or a three, significantly more often with the priming than without, or in a random distribution. Choosing a diamond alone showed no statistically significant difference between priming, no priming, and a random distribution.

    Of those subjects (16) who chose the three of diamonds, just three of them reported knowing the reason for their choice. Similarly, only seven of the 35 participants who chose a three card said they knew the reason for their choice—and even then, only three of those seven subjects specifically mentioned the performer's gestures. The others said they chose it randomly, or came up with a confabulation to explain their choice—for instance, "I always seem to count in threes," or because it was their favorite number. "Our results dovetail findings from the choice blindness literature, which illustrates that people often do not know the real reason for their choice," the authors wrote.

    3 votes
  2. [2]
    balooga
    Link
    I love Derren Brown as a performer, he's charismatic and quick on his feet, and comes across as a savant. That's his shtick. The thing about Derren Brown is he'll wow an audience and then...

    I love Derren Brown as a performer, he's charismatic and quick on his feet, and comes across as a savant. That's his shtick. The thing about Derren Brown is he'll wow an audience and then "explain" that the trick was merely a gifted brain and lifetime of study of neuro-linguistic programming, applied psychology, hypnosis, or other mumbo jumbo. But the fact is, all of that is just a veneer over some rather pedestrian magicianship of the sort others have been practicing for centuries.

    Every time you watch Derren Brown "influence" someone to make a choice, you're being hoodwinked. He either forces the choice with conventional sleight-of-hand, or is only showing you the take that went well, while the other 51 takes ended up on the cutting room floor. I don't say that to cheapen what he does... he's an incomparable talent. But his methods usually stray far afield from the explanations he offers in his act. I'd say it's downright bad science to try to validate his "techniques" in a study, and then blame the researcher's own poor results on her not being as expert as he.

    1 vote
    1. skybrian
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think you're approaching it the wrong way. Although inspired by his work, the study neither proves nor disproves anything about how Derrin Brown actually does anything, and it doesn't show that...

      I think you're approaching it the wrong way. Although inspired by his work, the study neither proves nor disproves anything about how Derrin Brown actually does anything, and it doesn't show that it always works, but it does seem to indicate that you shouldn't need 51 takes to get similar results, but something more like 6 takes.

      How much that can be improved on is speculation, not science, but scientists are allowed to speculate. When reading a scientific paper, you want to look at what the experiment actually did. The results aren't poor, they are just what she found. Someone else can try it and see how they do.

      1 vote