In human psychology, the term magic most appropriately describes a way of thinking based on specific cognitive principles, though it is also commonly used to refer to a wide-ranging array of phenomena. These include a type of pre-religious or prescientific social institution in traditional societies, specific beliefs that conflict with prevailing cultural or scientific beliefs (e.g., alien abductions), and romantic attraction (e.g., “it was a magical night”; and sleight-of-hand or stage magic [illusions]). Magic as a way of thinking may—but does not necessarily—lead to misattributions of causality. This entry describes the history of the study of magic and the principles of thinking that underlie magical beliefs, followed by an examination of modern conceptualizations of magical thinking and whether such thinking is misguided, an exploration of ...

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