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July 24, 2008

The Magic of Marketing

A research team from Durham University and the University of British Columbia is investigating magic tricks to further understand how people's minds work. The key magician's techniques that the team investigated were misdirection and illusion.

For example, in the misdirection trick, a researcher dropped a lighter and cigarette while misdirecting the subjects to the opposite hand. Most of the observers did not notice the researcher dropping the two objects even though it happened in plain sight.

In the illusion trick, a researcher tossed a ball into the air. In one case, his gaze followed the ball's upward flight. In the other, his gaze remained on his hand. 68 percent of the observers claim to have seen the researcher toss the ball into the air when his gaze followed the ball--that is, social cues created this expectation. Only 32 percent of the observers claimed to have seen it fly upward when his gaze didn't because there were no social cues.

You can see photographs and videos of these experiements here. For good or for bad, misdirection and illusion are probably principles of marketing too. Sometimes you can't even see the gorilla market in your midst because of how your mind works.

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