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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Aug;91(2):218-31.

Everyday magical powers: the role of apparent mental causation in the overestimation of personal influence.

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Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.


These studies examined whether having thoughts related to an event before it occurs leads people to infer that they caused the event--even when such causation might otherwise seem magical. In Study 1, people perceived that they had harmed another person via a voodoo hex. These perceptions were more likely among those who had first been induced to harbor evil thoughts about their victim. In Study 2, spectators of a peer's basketball-shooting performance were more likely to perceive that they had influenced his success if they had first generated positive visualizations consistent with that success. Observers privy to those spectators' visualizations made similar attributions about the spectators' influence. Finally, additional studies suggested that these results occur even when the thought-about outcome is viewed as unwanted by the thinker and even in field settings where the relevant outcome is occurring as part of a live athletic competition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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