Magicians can easily use techniques that will influence how spectators describe the magic tricks that are shown to them.
Often as magicians we forget to perform through the eyes of a layman. Magicians fully understand the route their magic tricks take from beginning to end. However, the spectators will often miss details that happen between the beginning and the end of the magic trick. This is human nature and the way our minds are designed to work. The brain will form a shape to events that happen, and the contents within become an assumption.
The Primacy and Recency Effect in your Magic Tricks.
For many years, Psychologists have understand that subjects in experiments will best remember events that happened at the start and at the end of a particular event.
Remembering the first part of an event or experience is called The Primacy Effect. It’s one of the reasons why first impressions are hard to change.
The last or most recent parts of an event are also remembered well by test subjects (The Recency Effect).
The middle of an event is often forgotten, or can easily be overshadowed by events that happened at the beginning or at the end of an event.
This is one of the reasons why your opener magic tricks and closer Magic tricks are so important. They are the magic tricks your act will most often be judged on.
The start and finish are important.
The human brain is amazing. It’s easy to think that we simply observe information and use the data to understand the world around us. However, our minds also apply their own filters and processing to the information it receives.
Can you read this sentence:
‘I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg.’
Oxford university conducted an experiment and came to the conclusion that so long as the first letter and the last letter of a word are in the right places the brain can very quickly reorder the letters in between and compose the word it is intended to be, creating an assumption. It is the brain fooling itself.
Often, when you perform your magic tricks, spectators may approach you afterwards and retell the events of the magic trick that they believe they have witnessed. You will notice that many of the events within the magic tricks you performed, never happened.
Magicians can learn magic tricks that use the spectators memory to their benefit.
Using a Playing Card
Let’s use this approach with magic tricks that use a playing card.
The card through window magic trick is an excellent example. Often spectators will approach you later on after the trick, sometimes on the same day, sometimes days later and convinced themselves that there was no playing card on the outside of the window before, and that they signed the card. They never looked at the window before the trick, and they never signed the playing card until after the playing card was found on the window. They are filling in events that never happened to sell the story.
Card to wallet magic trick tricks are also a good example of a spectators faulty memory of events. At the beginning of the magic trick a playing card is selected and signed and then lost in the deck of playing cards. At the end of the magic trick, it is found in the magicians wallet within a zippered compartment. If you put a few practically self working red herrings in between the start, and after the magic trick that solidifying things that didn’t actually happen, the spectators will solidly believe a different course of events has happened.
The spectator believes that the playing card may be his selection, but when he looks at the playing card, it states ‘look in the card case’. In the card case is a playing card that reads ‘not here, look in the pocket’. In your pocket, you could have a playing card that reads ‘not here either, look inside the zipper compartment of the wallet’. Then the spectator unzips the wallet and finds their signed playing card.
When recounted afterwards, the spectators often say that the playing card was in the wallet. The playing card transported to the card case, then into the magicians pocket and finally back to the zippered compartment of the wallet they were holding from the beginning. This is a moment to monopolise the situation. Notice that they are already creating moments within the magic tricks that never occurred. Magicians can strengthen this with a white lie or two!
Here are a few simple lines you could use when you do card magic tricks. The lines may help enhance the magic tricks after the event. Using specific language within the magic tricks paint a more impossible and impressive memory for the spectators.
“Yes, and I never even touched the deck of cards.”
“You could have thought of any playing card!”
“You signed your playing card before we even began.”
“You held the deck of cards from the very beginning.”
“And you thoroughly shuffled the deck of cards!”
Spectators will sometimes remember the premise set at the beginning of your magic tricks and the finale. The start and end. As magicians, we can aim to learn magic tricks that use this psychology to our benefit. Our job as magicians are to leave our audiences with magical memories, and the responsibility is on us to create that memory. If the audience willingly show they want to fill in the gaps with their own images, is it wrong that we should expand on this within our magic tricks? An innocent white lie or two is not a bad thing.