23.09.2021 14:43:40
Live In
Mastering Change Exclusive - December 2021
27.06.2021Change Solutions

Are magicians’ psychological tools the future of behavioural change?

Share this article

If there is a magician at a party, are you one of those people who’s convinced they know how the trick is done, only to be frustrated at the end when the magician flummoxes you and the coin really does appear from behind your ear, your expensive watch remains intact after being smacked by a hammer, and your phone number appears on the card in the deck?

Magic is wonderful, amusing and perplexing.

As human beings we’re hard wired to try and work out answers to complex questions – that’s why magic fascinates us.

But what if you could use magical principles to create bottom-up change in your team?

Magic can create effective change

Magic is powerful as the tools it uses can create an illusion of choice and ultimately control behaviour.

A study from Goldsmiths, University of London – Mind control trick: magicians’ forcing and free will, by psychologists Alice Pailhes and Gustav Kuhn – examines how magicians control their audiences’ decisions – and how this can be applied to other areas.

“A lot of these magic principles show that you can very easily manipulate and influence decisions that people make – and even though they feel free to have made that decision, the magician has pretty much full control,” says Dr Kuhn.

But how can this be used in a work environment?

Firstly, it is important to recognise that people tend to behave in similar ways. Research proves that in a magic trick, if people are asked to pick one of four cards laid in front of them, 60% of right-handed people will pick the one that is third from the left.

Add to this, the ‘illusion of choice’, where you believe you are making an independent decision during a trick, while in reality nothing you do will have an impact on the outcome.

But modifying behaviour doesn’t need to be regarded as a negative thing. It could provide new ways of encouraging better decisions within a team.

A little ‘nudge’ in the right direction

Nudge theory can be used really effectively in a work environment. As a concept it suggests that positive reinforcement and indirect suggestion can be used to influence behaviour and decision making within a team.

At CLP we embrace behaviour change and harness it as a force for good especially when creating an informal ‘bottom-up’ change movement. Our Behaviour Change training uses the power of social movements to create ‘cultural’ change.

It uses the mechanisms of social copying of defined behaviours, often found in a magician’s box of tricks, to effect change management within an organisation.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can influence behavioural change within your organisation, please get in touch.
We’re shuffling the deck of cards in anticipation…

Share this article