The crossroads of magic and wellbeing: A review of wellbeing-focused magic programs, empirical studies, and conceivable theories




Awe, Curiosity, Creativity, Social Skills, Motivation, Magic Tricks


In recent years, magicians and scientists have begun collaborating to gain insight into various psychological functions. However, one underexplored area is the use of magic tricks to enhance wellbeing. Several past and current magic programs have been used to enhance cognitive, emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. The application of these wellbeing-focused magic programs ranges from physical and psychological therapies to gang prevention, hospitals and classrooms. A few have been empirically investigated and additional studies have also explored the wellbeing value of magic. These studies are reviewed in light of a proposed hierarchical model based on how magic was applied. Overall, methodologies need improvement but distinctions between levels of the hierarchy can still be observed and are discussed. Furthermore, the positive effects on wellbeing can also be organised into interrelated physical, cognitive, social, and affective components that reflect existing theoretical frameworks on wellbeing. To conclude, possible mechanisms and theoretical frameworks based on more established psychological theories are discussed in order to help guide future research.


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Author Biography

Steven Bagienski, Goldsmiths University of London

I am a doctoral student at Goldsmiths University, and my main research interest is in Magic and Wellbeing.  My dissertation focuses on the social and emotional experiences of watching and learning to perform magic tricks.