Conjuring up creativity: the effect of performing magic tricks on divergent thinking

PeerJ. 2021 Apr 15:9:e11289. doi: 10.7717/peerj.11289. eCollection 2021.


Research suggests that learning to perform magic tricks can promote both physical and psychological wellbeing. The current study extended this work by examining the impact of learning magic tricks on divergent thinking. A group of 10- to 11-year-old children completed Guilford's Alternate Uses Test both before and after participating in either a magic-based, or art-based, activity. As predicted, compared to the art-based activity, the magic-based activity resulted in a significantly greater increase in both AUT Fluency and AUT Originality scores. Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Scale and Dweck's Implicit Theories of Intelligence Scale for Children was also completed after each activity, and participants' self-esteem scores were higher after the art-based activity than the magic-based activity. In an exploratory aspect of the study, the AUT was re-administered to both groups three weeks later, and yielded no significant differences. The practical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed, along with recommendations for future research.

Keywords: Children; Conjuring; Creativity; Divergent thinking; Magic; Psychology; Self-esteem.

Grants and funding

The authors received no funding for this work.