Belief in the paranormal and magical thinking

Belief in the paranormal

One strand of this work examines the formation, maintenance, and impact of belief in the paranormal. Much of this work has been carried out in collaboration with Professor Caroline Watt (Edinburgh University) and looked at superstitious belief and lucky charms, belief in the paranormal and alleged hauntings, and the critical assessment of evidence relating to extrasensory perception.

Other research has investigated the reliability of eyewitness testimony for fake psychic phenomena, including the role of suggestion in the seance room, alleged psychokinetic metal bending, the reliability of testimony for the Indian Rope Trick (with Dr Peter Lamont, Edinburgh University). This work has been published in various books, including The Luck Factor and Paranormality.

Stratagems of professional magicians

A second strand of work has looked at the stratagems employed by professional magicians to fool observers.

Early work in this area was conducted in collaboration with Dr Peter Lamont and involved interviewing leading magicians about the psychology used during their performances. This work was published in the book, Magic In Theory.

More recent work has involved looking at the role of blinking in the observation of magic, and the relationship between learning magic and wellbeing. Related work has explored the psychology of optical illusions, including change blindness, inattentional blindness and movement illusions.