ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (7): 1198-1204.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2014.01198

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Sympathetic Magical Thinking: Performance, Mechanism, and Mitigation

ZHANG Quancheng;CHAO Zhongpeng   

  1. (1 School of Business, Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu 610101, China) (2 School of Business Administration, Northeastern University, Shenyang 110004, China)
  • Received:2013-08-23 Online:2014-07-15 Published:2014-07-15
  • Contact: ZHANG Quancheng


As part of the primitive, intuitive mode of human thought, sympathetic magical thinking (SMT) is a cognitive process based on the law of sympathetic magic which contains two basic laws, the law of similarity and the law of contagion. The law of similarity holds that “like causes like” and “appearance equals reality”. In other words, things that resemble one another at a superficial level are perceived to share fundamental properties. The law of contagion holds that physical contact between the source and the recipient results in the transfer of “essence” from the source to the recipient and that the source and recipient can influence each other even after they disconnect. Note that the effect of contagion can be either positive or negative. The effects of SMT have been supported in some areas such as food disgust and consumer shopping. The future research on SMT should focus on areas other than food disgust and consumer shopping, strategies to mitigate the effects of SMT, and the information processing of SMT.

Key words: sympathetic magic, sympathetic magical thinking, law of similarity, law of contagion