In Search of Wonder: Measuring Our Response to the Miraculous


The wonder that occurs while watching a good magic trick or admiring a gorgeous natural vista is a strong emotion that has not been well studied. Educators, media producers, entertainers, scientists and magicians could all benefit from a more robust understanding of wonder. A new model was developed, and an experiment was conducted to investigate how several variables affect how magic tricks are enjoyed. The experiment showed 70 subjects 10 videos of magic while recording their responses and reactions to the tricks. Some individuals were shown the explanations to the magic tricks to gauge their impact on enjoyment. The style of the presentation was varied between two groups to compare the effect of magic presented as a story to magic presented as a puzzle. Presentation style has an effect on magic enthusiasts' enjoyment and a story-oriented presentation is associated with individuals being more generous towards a charity.