Blink and you'll miss it: The role of blinking in the perception of magic tricks

Richard J. Wiseman, Tamami Nakano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
93 Downloads (Pure)


Magicians use several techniques to deceive their audiences, including, for example, the misdirection of attention and verbal suggestion. We explored another potential stratagem, namely the relaxation of attention. Participants watched a video of a highly skilled magician whilst having their eye-blinks recorded. The timing of spontaneous eye-blinks was highly synchronized across participants. In addition, the synchronized blinks frequency occurred immediately after a seemingly impossible feat, and often coincided with actions that the magician wanted to conceal from the audience. Given that blinking is associated with the relaxation of attention, these findings suggest that blinking plays an important role in the perception of magic, and that magicians may utilize blinking and the relaxation of attention to hide certain secret actions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1873
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2016


  • Attention
  • Blinking
  • Conjuring
  • Illusion
  • Magic
  • Perception
  • Psychology


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