Misdirection in magic: implications for the relationship between eye gaze and attention

Gustav Kuhn, Benjamin W. Tatler, John M. Findlay, Geoff G. Cole

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    78 Citations (Scopus)


    Magicians use misdirection to manipulate people's attention in order to prevent their audiences from uncovering their methods. Here we used a prerecorded version of a magic trick to investigate some of the factors that accompany successful misdirection. Prior information about the nature of the trick significantly improved participants' detection of the method. The informed participants fixated closer to the event in question, suggesting that they were monitoring it more closely once they knew about the trick. The probability of detection was independent of how far the participant was looking from the "secret" event as it happened, but participants who detected the event moved their eyes towards where it took place much earlier than participants who missed it. This result is consistent with the notion that attention is allocated ahead of the current locus of fixation, and we present evidence that attention may be allocated two or more saccade targets ahead of where the participant is fixating.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)391-405
    Number of pages15
    JournalVisual Cognition
    Issue number2-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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