If you are in a magical world, which magic do you think is more difficult? Making a frog appear out of nowhere? Changing a frog from green to red? Or levitating a frog? Well, you may think these are questions only kids will consider. However, scientists are also interested in them.
Physical laws are linked with fictional worlds
The researchers recently asked participants such questions and require them to rank spells according to their difficulty. In turns out that nearly all participants thought that changing a frog’s color was the easiest spell, while conjuring a frog into existence was the hardest.
When being asked whether it is more difficult to perform spells on a cow than a frog, the majority of participants answered “Yes,” which shows more people believe that it is harder to control a bigger thing.
The researchers also found that these results were not due to the familiarity with fantasy and magic in books, TV, movies and games. This suggests that people actually use their understanding of the physical world to make sense of imaginary worlds.
"We tend to think of imaginary worlds that are closer to our own world," said the leader of the study Tomer Ullman. "So, in the Harry Potter books, gravity still exists, and J.K. Rowling doesn't need to tell us, at the beginning of the story, that it still exists."
Why people love fictional stories
In reality, we know that we have to use more efforts to lift heavier things than lighter things. And even babies know that something magic is going on when a thing suddenly appeared or disappeared out of nowhere.
The natural world has its laws. Since we can’t change the physical laws in real life, we tend to hope that we can interfere with the laws and do impossible things in fictional worlds. This suggests that when fantasy is rooted in reality, people will think it is more enjoyable.
Scientists are now planning to do further studies. Ultimately, the understanding of physical senses may help shed new light on the function of our brains.