Magical thinking

Belief in the connection of unrelated events / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Magical thinking, or superstitious thinking,[1] is the belief that unrelated events are causally connected despite the absence of any plausible causal link between them, particularly as a result of supernatural effects.[1][2][3] Examples include the idea that personal thoughts can influence the external world without acting on them, or that objects must be causally connected if they resemble each other or have come into contact with each other in the past.[1][2][4] Magical thinking is a type of fallacious thinking and is a common source of invalid causal inferences.[3][5] Unlike the confusion of correlation with causation, magical thinking does not require the events to be correlated.[3]

The precise definition of magical thinking may vary subtly when used by different theorists or among different fields of study. In anthropology (the earliest research), the posited causality is between religious ritual, prayer, sacrifice, or the observance of a taboo, and an expected benefit or recompense. Later research indicates that magical thinking is also common in modern societies.

In psychology, magical thinking is the belief that one's thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world or that thinking something corresponds with doing it.[6] These beliefs can cause a person to experience an irrational fear of performing certain acts or having certain thoughts because of an assumed correlation between doing so and threatening calamities.[1]

In psychiatry, magical thinking is a disorder of thought content;[7] here it denotes the false belief that one's thoughts, actions, or words will cause or prevent a specific consequence in some way that defies or circumvents commonly understood laws of causality.[8]