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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Children and Their Common Response to a Given Choice (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Veteran user
Southern California
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Profile of hoodrat
I work with kids a lot in my job, and I often play a teaching game with them one-on-one. The game involves each of us selecting either ten pennies or ten dimes to be our "markers" or "tokens" for the duration of the game. I always ask the kids, "Which do you want to be -- the dimes or the pennies?" The kids ALWAYS pick the dimes. I wonder why this is? Is it because they know that dimes have more monetary value than the pennies? I have always been amazed by their consistent selection of the dimes over the pennies.

Would this translate to adults as well?? Do you think adults, when given the choice, would choose ten dimes over ten pennies for a game or experiment? Would this make doing mentalism effects easier?

Any other thoughts or comments?
Jonathan Townsend
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Eternal Order
Ossining, NY
27123 Posts

Profile of Jonathan Townsend
Which would you rather be, the living or the dead? The copper pot or the gold statue? all the coins I've dropped here
Greg Arce
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Inner circle
6422 Posts

Profile of Greg Arce
I think it depends on how the command is worded. If you say, "Would you like the dimes or the pennies?" then I assume most people would pick the dimes because of the higher value... but if you place the coins on the table and the penny is to their right and you say, "With your right hand pick up one coin." most people just pick up the coin that is to their right... in this case, the penny.
You can't count on being 100% right, but it does increase your chances.
My opening effect for close up mentalism is usually John George's take on Positive/negative and I always lay out the invisible coins so that the penny is to the spectator's right and the other to coins are middle and left. When I say, "With your right and pick up one coin."... most of the time the person picks up the penny. The cool thing is that the next higher percentage is that they will pick up one of the other coins followed by the other higher valued coin and leave the penny so in both of these outcomes the equivoque is as short as it can be.

One of my favorite quotes: "A critic is a legless man who teaches running."
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Inner circle
5060 Posts

Profile of entity
Speaking of children and their choices for mentalism effects...

I've found that children, up to the age of six or seven, when given a repeated choice between two objects, will alternate back and forth every time.

For example, If you have them hide a coin in one hand, both hands closed, and they keep the coin in their right hand, then if you ask them to do it again, the next time they will keep the coin in the left hand. the third time they will keep the coin in their right hand, the fourth time in their left hand, etc.

While this become obvious to others present if you do it too many times, it is useful to know. There seems to be a cut-off age of abou seven, when the child becomes too discerning or thoughtful for this to work.

A good experiment with this is to do a sort of Out of This World color choice for children aged five or six.

Begin with the subtlety of using a red-backed pack. Spread the cards toward yourself and outjog a red card, a heart or a diamond. Ask the child what color the card is. Young children will think you mean the BACK of the card, and they'll say: "Red". The adults won't know this. You turn the card around to show everyone it is indeed a red card. Praise the child for their wonderful ability, and show them all of the cards, explaining that you could have chosen any of the cards, a red one or a black one.

The child will now understand the idea of the game.

This time, outjog a black card and ask them if it is red or black. As I mentioned earlier, this time the child will say black. You can do this two or three more times, alternating red and black, and the child will guess correctly every time. Four or five hits is enough to impress the adults present.

- entity
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