Magical Thinking

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  • Created by: Ross Hill
  • Created on: 19-02-15 10:08

Magical Thinking

Magical thinking is a clinical term used to desribe a wide variety of non scientific and sometimes irrational beliefs.

Centered around correlations between events

For example blowing a dice for a lucky throw

5 explanations;

  • Psychodynaminc Theory
  • Dual Processing Theory
  • Animism
  • Nominal Realism
  • Law of Contagion
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Magical Thinking- Psychodynamic Theory

Magical Thinking is a form of child like thought where the inner feelings are projected onto the outer world

In adults such behaviour is a defence mechanism where they regress to a child like state as a means of coping with anxiety e.g. Think badly about someone and it will hurt them

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Magical Thinking- Dual Processing Theory

Magical thinking is based on a child's mode of thought

Child thinking is intruitive and lacks internal logic

Adult thinking is logical and is internally consistent

However children continue to use intruitive thinking in some situations creating magical thinking in adults

2 Processes--> Dual Processing

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Magical Thinking- Animism

Piaget (1954)

Intruitve nature of young children's thoughts 

A charcaterisitic mode of thinking in pre occupational stage is this amnism --> acribe feelings to physcial objects

Lindeman and Aarino (2007) relate magical thinking to aminism e.g. Feng Shui assumes that positive feelings come from arrangements of furniture

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Magical Thinking- Nominal Realism

Pre occupational thought

Children sometimes have difficult seperating the name of things from the things and themselves

Carries on in adult thinking

Rozin et al (1986);

  • poured sugar into 2 glasses labelled 'sugar' and 'cyonide'
  • Participants who witnessed the pouring of sugar were still reluctant to drink the poison gas
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Magical Thinking- Law of Contagion

Things having been in contact continue to act on each other even after physcial contact ceases

This is extended to magical thinking--> believing that something from someone gives you special powers

Numeroff and Rozin (1994);

  • Our evolved fear of contagion
  • Adapted to avoid touching soemting that had been in contact with a diseased person --> psychological and physical qualities can pass between people through things they touch
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Magical Thinking- Positives/Research Support

  • Magical thinking may lead people to think more posively abput their environment becuase they expect good things to happen as a result of their belief and actions
  • Self efficacy (belief in own abilities) is one explantion. Another explanation is placebo effect- Magical thining acts like a placebo creating a positive view and this alone accounts for improvements 

Rosenthal and Jacobsen (1968);

  • showed that Children's IQ scores increased over a period of a year as their teachers were led to expect them to do better.
  • Self fuffiling prophecy- things turn out as we expect becuase of our explanation

Huston (2008);

  • people who are depressed generally show less magical thinking and are called depression realism
  • Suggests a fully accurate assesement of one's own abilities may not be good for you
  • Bit of Magical thinking can be a good thing
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Magical Thinking- Negatives/ Research Criticism

Mohr et al (2005);

  • linked this lack of magical thinking to low levels of dopamine 
  • Dopamine is high in both schizophrenics and believers

Weinberger & Harrison (2011);

  • Magical thinking is linked to mental disorders
  • Too much is not a good thing
  • Characteristics of schizorypal personality disorder and schizrophrnia 

Youlmaz at al (2011);

  • found that magical thinking was a critical factor in OCD 
  • Found that people with strong magical beliefs also reported more checking symptoms
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Magical Thinking- Real World Application

Vamos 2010;

  • organ donation rates are low as we link donation with the image of our dead body 
  • Carrying a donor creates negative emotions and discurages people from volunteering 
  • Donation rates would improve if we made an association between donating organs and extending lifes- poisitve magical reward
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