A particular kind of wonder: the experience of magic past and present

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Abstract

Wonder may be an important emotion, but the term ‘wonder’ is remarkably ambiguous. For centuries, in psychological discourse, it has been defined as a variety of things. In an attempt to be more focused, and given the growing scientific interest in magic, this article describes a particular kind of wonder: the response to a magic trick. It first provides a historical perspective by considering continuity and change over time in this experience, and argues that, in certain respects, this particular kind of wonder has changed. It then describes in detail the experience of magic, considers the extent to which it might be considered acquired rather than innate, and how it relates to other emotions, such as surprise. In the process, it discusses the role of belief, and offers some suggestions for future research. It concludes by noting the importance of context and meaning in shaping the nature of the experience, and argues for the value of both experimental and historical research in the attempt to understand such experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1- 8
Number of pages8
JournalReview of General Psychology
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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