When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by magic tricks. Whether it was simple coin tricks or watching David Copperfield walk through the Great Wall of China on television, I always wanted to know: How do they do that?
By the time I finished training as a therapist, I had learned to focus on entirely different kinds of magic tricks, or illusions — the kinds that we consciously and unconsciously create all of the time.
The question pressing on me shifted: Why do we do that? Why do we, as seemingly rational, well-intentioned people go around deluding ourselves on a regular basis?
In the 1970′s, Ellen Langer, a researcher from UCLA, demonstrated evidence for a phenomenon she called the illusion of control. Subsequent researchers corroborated this so-called positive illusion across a number of experimental setups.
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