Magical Thinking

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Magical Thinking by Mind Map: Magical Thinking

1. What is it?

1.1. A clinical term for a wide variety of non-scientific and irrational beliefs

1.1.1. It can involve objects having meaning attached to them so that they are viewed as having special magical properties

1.2. Examples

1.2.1. e.g. People will not move into a house which is number 13, or where someone has previously died

1.2.2. Workers in dangerous occupations, such as deep sea fisherman, often engage in elaborate rituals before going out to sea

1.3. Brammers (1982) - individuals who practise magical thinking often have no idea how this luck is provided, other than by a 'greater power'

2. Explanations

2.1. Psychodynamic

2.1.1. Magical thinking occurs in children when they project their inner feelings onto the outer world.

2.1.2. Adults may use magical thinking as a defense mechanism involving a regression to a child-like state to cope with anxiety. e.g. when the deep sea fisherman do their rituals, they reduce their anxieties about going out to sea and feel less at risk

2.2. Dual processing theory

2.2.1. This theory proposes that there are two types of thinking: one is conscious and involves logic e.g. the type of thinking involved when doing a maths puzzle. The other type of thinking is mostly unconscious, based on intuition and it lacks logic. This type of intuitive thinking is more common in children and it is the type of thinking that magical thinking involves.

2.3. Animism

2.3.1. Piaget (1954) also stated that young children do not think according to logic, but think from intuition.

2.3.2. Children may use animism which involves stating that objects have feelings e.g. that a car was hurt.

2.4. Law of contagion - James Frazer

2.4.1. Things which have been in contact continue to act on eachother even if they are no longer in physical contact. This can be explained in an evolutionary way: such magical thinking is related to the fear of germs and contagious illness which may spread through physical contact and is avoided. In addition to physical illness/germs, a person may also believe that psychological effects can be transferred by contact even after contact has ended and also that these psychological effects can be good or bad. e.g. people will not want to buy a house where a tragedy has occurred because the 'essence of tragedy' remains in the house

2.4.2. Nermoff and Rozin (1994)

2.5. Mohr et al - lack of magical thinking and low dopamine levels are linked by a negative correlation

2.5.1. Magical thinking can be difficult to measure

3. Evaluation

3.1. Can provide a coping mechanism

3.2. Placebo effect- people expect a certain outcome so this may indeed happen

3.3. Self fulfilling prophecy

3.3.1. Rosenthal - when teachers had high expectations of certain students they would achieve more Cause and effect?

3.4. Too much Magical thinking can be bad

3.4.1. It is a recognised sign of schizophrenia

3.4.2. Clinical factor of OCD