Get access

Can magical intervention affect subjective experiences? Adults' reactions to magical suggestion


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Eugene Subbotsky, Psychology Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YF, UK (e-mail:


In three experiments, undergraduates' subjective experiences were affected by positive magical intervention. A large number of participants accepted the offer of magical help, yet the outcomes they reported were contrary to the aims of the magical intervention. In Experiment 1, participants were offered magical help that aimed to improve their practical skills. However, in the magical-suggestion condition, they reported no improvement significantly more frequently than in the control no-suggestion condition. In Experiment 2, participants who accepted the offer of magical help aimed at improving their general life satisfaction reported a significant decrease in this satisfaction. Those who declined the offer of magical help reported a significant increase in satisfaction. In Experiment 3, in the magical-suggestion condition, participants experienced bad dreams significantly more frequently than in the control condition. In conclusion, the data suggest that adult participants protect their subjective experiences against magical intervention.