Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Observations on invisibility : an investigation on the role of expectation and attentional set on visual awareness
Author: Tompkins, Matthew L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 7523
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
This thesis is concerned with the psychology of magic and illusion. In particular it is focused on three illusions, which can be conceptualized as types of invisibility: (1) Illusions of omission - failures to see, (2) Illusions of commission - seeing things that are not really present, and (3) metacognitive illusions - people's false beliefs about their own cognitive and perceptual systems. The work presented in this thesis is set out to explore these illusions through behavioural visual experiments inspired by sleight-of-hand magic tricks. Across three distinct paradigms using stimuli ranging in complexity from static line drawings, to recorded videos, to live events, I demonstrate that manipulations of observers' expectations and attentional set can result in perceptions of visual events that are variously accurate representations, illusions of omission, or illusions of commission. I also demonstrate that these illusions are often associated with failures of visual metacognition, in that they are generally considered to be surprising and counterintuitive. In addition to these empirical elements of the project, I also consider historical and contemporary connections between experimental psychology and magic tricks. I show that, in some instances, magicians' misdirection techniques anticipated developments by experimental psychology by hundreds of years, and that the idea of investigating the mechanisms of magic tricks and illusions played a key role in the development of experimental psychology as a scientific discipline. Through this combination of historical analyses novel experiments, I show that the integration of magic and experimental psychology has a great potential to drive future research in human cognition and perception.
Supervisor: Davies, Anne Aimola Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology, Experimental ; Metacognition ; Magic ; Perception ; Cognition ; Illusion ; Magicians