6 Amazing Mind Tricks to Play on Your Friends

Updated on October 11, 2018
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Marc Hubs, author of "Reflections Of NPD" is a writer/researcher on the mind, science, psychology/psychiatry, metaphysics and consciousness.

Mind tricks can be fun to play on your family and friends.
Mind tricks can be fun to play on your family and friends.

Human psychology, physiology, and subjective behavior work in fascinating ways. They offer some intriguing principles which can be a lot of fun to play with.

If you don't believe me, consider how magicians and illusionists entertain their audience by fooling their audience's perception, thereby making it seem like the impossible is happening. Even though we know we've been fooled, rather than think critically about it and try to work out the logic behind how it was achieved, we are entertained and amused by it and allow ourselves to be fooled for the sake of entertainment.

Mentalists, hypnotists, and psychological illusionists take things a step further and trick the mind by using a combination of psychology, physiology, suggestion, and logic. By utilizing these principles, there are a small variety of "mind tricks" that can be carried out very easily on your family and friends.

Here are some of the easier mind tricks to carry out. Some you can carry out alone, others require at least one other person. These tricks can be good fun to test with your family and friends.

Mind Tricks to Play on Your Friends

  1. Sticky Fingers
  2. The Pendulum
  3. Visions of Jesus
  4. Sinking Into the Floor
  5. Mind-Reading Version 1
  6. Mind-Reading Version 2

1. Sticky Fingers

The physics of the body can be used to trick people's minds. Our bodies are capable of bizarre and bewildering behaviors. Exploring these can be a fun way to confuse your friends and family.

How the Trick Is Done:

  • This one can be done alone, or with another person. First, you need to clasp your hands together. Not together as though you are praying, but interlock your fingers and bend them, as though you would if you were holding someone's hand.
  • You then put your two index fingers (forefingers) out straight, leaving a small gap between them (so they are not touching) while keeping your hands clasped together and the rest of your fingers interlocked.
  • Usually, what you'll find after just a few seconds is that your index fingers will slowly start closing in on each other until, eventually, they touch. This is an automatic response and can only be avoided by purposely making the effort (which is actually more difficult than you would expect).
  • When asking another person to do this, you can pretend to tie an invisible piece of string around their index fingers, thereby giving them the illusion that you are doing it.

Result: The principle behind how this trick works is ideomotor movement (or ideomotion). The trick works opposite to how you normally position and use your fingers. It confuses your senses and causes a double take.

2. The Pendulum

One common myth is that the gender of an unborn child can be predicted by swinging a pendulum above a pregnant mother's womb. Obviously, this technique would be useless in modern times (even if it did work) because we can now do this with ultrasound. Nevertheless, this same principle can be used to confuse your friends.

How the Trick Is Done:

  • Make a pendulum by tying a coin or a key to a piece of string.
  • Assign "yes" to clockwise and "no" to counterclockwise and then ask the pendulum questions. (Of course, all the movements are a result of ideomotion and are carried out subconsciously, but this very same principle could in fact be used to turn the pendulum into a lie detector!)
  • Simply ask your friend or family member to hold the pendulum and ask them a question, but tell them to only answer it in their mind. If they hold that answer in their mind, the pendulum will usually begin to rotate either clockwise or anti-clockwise based on their answer.

Result: The participant is actually moving the pendulum themselves, they just don't consciously realize it. Real lie detectors work in a similar way. This mind trick is based on ideomotion, meaning that the subject makes motions unconsciously.

Optical Illusion
Optical Illusion

3. Visions of Jesus

This one's a pretty cool optical illusion that you can try alone, then try with all your friends. It's also one well worth experiencing.

How the Trick Is Done:

  • To see this optical illusion, you need the image up above. Notice that there is a line of dots near the middle of the image.
  • What you need to do is tell someone to focus on and stare at those three dots for between thirty to sixty seconds non-stop.
  • Once they're done staring at the dots, tell them to close their eyes and put their head back, making sure to keep their eyes firmly shut (but tell them not to strain, or keep them too tight).

Result: Within a few seconds, Jesus will miraculously appear right in front of them! The longer they keep their eyes shut, the more pronounced and detailed the image should become... until it eventually begins to fade away.

4. Sinking Into the Floor

How the Trick Is Done:

  • Get your friend to lie face down on the floor with their arms stretched out in front of them. They should remain completely relaxed.
  • You then lift their forearms up to about your waist level and hold them there for between 30 to 60 seconds.
  • After that, you slowly begin to lower their arms towards the floor, which makes them feel like they are literally free-falling straight through the floor.

Result: The mind and body are tricked into losing their normal sense of space. The sensation of sinking/falling will not last long, but it will certainly freak them out for a little while. The other participate will become confused as well, calling out just before they think they're going to hit the floor!

5. Mind-Reading (1)

The "carrot" trick is quite a popular and effective one, but don't question why or how it works. It just does!

How the Trick Is Done:

  • Write down the word "carrot" on a piece of paper.
  • Give it to your friend, but tell them not to look at it... yet.
  • Let them hold on to it so they know there's no cheating going on.
  • Next, ask them "what's 1+1?" and wait for them to answer.
  • Ask "what's 2+2?" and wait for them to answer.
  • Keep going until you get to 8+8.
  • After they answer, ask them to name a vegetable.

Result: 90% of the time they will think of a carrot. They don't realize it, but their answer is already there on the piece of paper you gave them! These mathematical tricks are tools used by mentalists to "read" people's minds. We have two brain functions. When the higher cognitive function is distracted, we revert to a very suggestive state of mind. Some think that this trick works because the counting reminds us of children's books, etc. and carrots are the most common vegetable we learn about as U.S. kids. That said, how exactly it works is frequently under debate.

The narratives we create in our heads are not the same as the formulation of the unconscious mind. Our sense of reality is split and can be easily manipulated.
The narratives we create in our heads are not the same as the formulation of the unconscious mind. Our sense of reality is split and can be easily manipulated.

6. Mind-Reading (2)

Everyday we deal with numbers and letters. No matter how smart or educated we think we are, these two things can easily be used to confuse us. We spend so much time thinking linearly about numbers and letters that our desire for logic can easily be manipulated.

How the Trick Is Done:

  • This is quite a popular one. Get someone to think of a number between one and ten.
  • Once they've selected, tell them to multiply that number by nine. If they are then thinking of a number with two digits, tell them to add those two digits together.
  • Then tell them to subtract five.
  • Next, tell them to assign a letter of the alphabet to that number where A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.
  • Tell them to think of a country beginning with that letter.
  • Then ask them to think of an animal using the second letter of the country they are thinking of.
  • Then tell them to think of the color of that animal.

Result: You then tell them that they're thinking of a grey elephant from Denmark. (Smarter people can come up with answers which are a little more imaginative. You've got to know your audience.) The math computations your participants are doing here are just intended to confuse their minds. Basically, after all these calculations, you'll get one answer, and that is four.

And then the letter that corresponds to it is D. When you are told to think of any country that begins with that letter, the first one that comes into most of the people's minds is Denmark. From there, you are advised to skip that letter and move to the next one, which leads you to the letter "E."

Now you are told to think of an animal that begins with that letter. The first animal that comes to your mind is an elephant. When you consider its color, you get grey. In conclusion, you have a color grey, the animal elephant, and the country Denmark.

More Simple and Easy Mind Tricks

Control People With Your Eyes

Do you have any friends who always take the lead when walking? Do they move too fast, or get too bossy when going somewhere? This trick is always a fun one to play.

How the Trick Is Done:

  • If a person wants to go a certain way, and if they are looking at you, try looking in the opposite direction.
  • Exaggerate your gait and the speed of your walking to seem like you're in a hurry. This will confuse them further.

Result: Chances are that the person will start walking in the opposite direction, or stand there befuddled.

Confuse People's Hearing

Sound localization is a listener’s ability to identify the origin of a sound in direction and distance. The human auditory system has limited possibilities to determine the distance of a sound source. This one's incredibly easy to pull off!

How the Trick Is Done:

  • This trick can be performed with three people, one being the subject and the other two being objects/observers. You will also need a headset connected to routine plastic pipes on either side.
  • Ask the subject to sit on a chair equidistant between you and the second observer.
  • Each one of you must hold the pipes from the headset on the corresponding sides and one by one they must speak into the pipes. The subject will rightly tell the direction of the sound.
  • Now, exchange the pipes and repeat voicing into the pipes. The subject’s brain will get confused and he’ll point in the opposite direction of the sound.

Result: Because this trick messes with inter-aural time differences, exchanging the pipes causes perception by the opposite sided neurons in the brain. That's why the subject will not be able to localize the sound.

Confuse Their Proprioreception or "The Pinocchio Effect"

"The Pinocchio effect" is an illusion that one's nose is growing longer. It is an illusion of proprioception, meaning that the sense of the relative position of one's own parts of the body become confused.

How the Trick Is Done:

  • This requires two chairs and a blindfold. The person wearing the blindfold should sit in a chair in the rear, staring at the back of the person sitting in the front.
  • The blindfolded person then reaches around and places his hand on the nose of the other person. At the same time, he should place his other hand on his own nose and begin gently stroking both noses.
  • After about one minute, more than 50% of the subjects will report that their nose is incredibly long. That's why this trick is called the "Pinocchio Effect."

Result: This trick is meant to confuse proprioreception. The trick always demonstrates how connected people are, how we can so easily take another's feelings on as our own. It also works on our insecurities. Our self-consciousness about our bodies can easily be manipulated.

Feel a Phantom Sensation

Using the illusion of a strategically-placed rubber hand to trick the brain, scientists have made the first recordings of the human brain's awareness of its own body.

How the Trick Is Done:

  • Each volunteer must hide their right hand beneath a table while a rubber hand is placed in front of them at an angle suggesting that the fake hand is part of their body.
  • Stroke both the rubber hand and the hidden hand simultaneously with a paintbrush.
  • On average, it takes volunteers about 11 seconds to start experiencing that the rubber hand is their own.
  • After the experiment, ask volunteers to point towards their right hand. Most will reach in the wrong direction, pointing towards the rubber hand instead.

Result: For a little while, the volunteer will become confused as to which hand is their own. The effect diminishes rapidly, but the trick will almost always work. This confusion happens in the premotor cortex, providing further evidence of the brain's ability for re-adjustment.

The World's Greatest Magicians

Name
When They Lived
Brief Bio
Harry Houdini
March 24, 1874—October 31, 1926
Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-born American illusionist and stunt performer. He became famous for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted notice in vaudeville in the U.S., then as "Harry Handcuff Houdini" on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up.
Dynamo
December 17, 1982—Present
Steven Frayne, better known as Dynamo, is an English magician. He starred in his own television show "Dynamo: Magician Impossible." The show ran from July 2011 to September 2014 and won the Best Entertainment Programme award at the Broadcast Awards in 2012.
Harry August Jansen (Dante)
October 3, 1883—June 15, 1955
Harry August Jansen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and settled in the United States. He traveled the world as a professional magician under the name Dante the Magician.
Derren Brown
February 27, 1971—Present
Derren Brown is an English mentalist and illusionist. He created the television show "Derren Brown: Mind Control in 2000," he has produced several other shows and has written books for magicians as well as the general public.
Harry Blackstone Jr.
June 30, 1934—May 14, 1997
Harry Bouton Blackstone Jr. was an American stage magician, author, and television performer. He is estimated to have pulled 80,000 rabbits from his sleeves and hats.
Ricky Jay
1948—Present
Richard Jay Potash, known professionally as Ricky Jay, is an American stage magician, actor, and writer. In a profile for the New Yorker, Mark Singer called Jay "perhaps the most gifted sleight of hand artist alive".
Siegfried and Roy
Siegfried Fischbacher June 13, 1939—Present, Uwe Ludwig Horn ("Roy") October 3, 1944
Siegfried & Roy are a German-American duo of magicians and entertainers, who became known for their appearances with white lions and white tigers.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Sparkster Publishing

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      • profile image

        Kacey 

        12 days ago

        The mind reading one is so cool

      • profile image

        MARKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKkKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK 

        6 weeks ago

        I don't get this at all.

      • profile image

        katelyn 

        2 months ago

        i dont understand any of this and it would be better if it was step by step. it takes a lot of efort to read it all

      • profile image

        Joe 

        5 months ago

        cool

      • profile image

        Ivy 

        5 months ago

        That Jesus trick had me and my friends shook

      • profile image

        0JustAShadow0 

        5 months ago

        I just realized that light as a feather and stiff as a bord is real just tried it out

      • profile image

        Jerry 

        5 months ago

        I will know if someone is lying to me now.

      • profile image

        Meena 

        5 months ago

        Okay

      • profile image

        Faith 

        6 months ago

        The best is mind reading

      • profile image

        Ava 

        8 months ago

        cool

      • profile image

        Elisha Thompson 

        8 months ago

        So cool

      • profile image

        Purple 

        8 months ago

        Jesus trick was ok but the carrot one was the best

      • Stephen Austen profile image

        S P Austen 

        8 months ago from Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada

        This is a great little article, Sparkster; the Jesus image is excellent, and I was amazed by N0 6 Mind Reading. I did this one on my own, first writing down number 7. I did the calculations exactly as described, writing everything down first. I got number 63, then 9, then 4 following your directions. I then wrote down the letter D. Then Elephant. then Grey. I had exactly what you predicted, a Grey Elephant from Denmark! I must try this out on someone!

      • profile image

        hanzonyejegbu@yahoo.com 

        8 months ago

        cabbage what did you do to me?

      • profile image

        yellow 

        8 months ago

        the jesus trick was cool and before i read this my friend showed me the falling one at school

      • profile image

        Ethan 

        8 months ago

        the Jesus trick is awesome

      • profile image

        Emily 

        8 months ago

        This is so cool my friend was clueless

      • profile image

        Arion 

        9 months ago

        Jesus trick is cool

      • profile image

        noice dude 

        10 months ago

        As stated above

      • profile image

        Julia 

        10 months ago

        I loved the Jesus trick

      • profile image

        bob 

        11 months ago

        this was amazing

      • profile image

        Animal jam fan!!! 

        11 months ago

        Amazing

      • profile image

        Chloe 

        11 months ago

        Ausome tricks

        I'm gonna try the carrot one

      • profile image

        11 months ago

        good

        .......

      • profile image

        landon 

        11 months ago

        the carrot one did not work for me. Cabbage was the vegetable. My friends are smart.

      • profile image

        COOL GIRL 

        12 months ago

        Nice trick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • profile image

        Dan 

        12 months ago

        Great post!

      • profile image

        Tamara Yancosky 

        15 months ago

        Sparkster,

        You mean, where am I? Or, were you asking someone else? Sorry I am late answering this. My email for this account was down, so I didn't know.

        Tamara

      • profile image

        cutie pie 

        15 months ago

        that was amasing

      • profile image

        momina noor 

        15 months ago

        nice tricks

      • profile image

        Lyssa 

        15 months ago

        The last one has never worked on me because in school they made us memorize all the countries of Africa and I have Dijibouti permanently stuck in my mind. Green iguanas are not the same as grey elephants!

      • profile image

        Lololol 

        15 months ago

        The elephant one didn't work for me

      • profile image

        Tamara Moore 

        16 months ago

        These are cool! I wish I was better at playing tricks, but it's just one reason why I cannot play Poker...

      • sparkster profile imageAUTHOR

        Sparkster Publishing 

        16 months ago from United Kingdom

        It doesn't work on everyone but about 75% of people usually think of a carrot, at least in the UK they do. Where in the world are you? I'm wondering if location makes a difference.

      • profile image

        jolly 

        16 months ago

        carrot trick is not working ..

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        18 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Sparkster.....Clever tricks that sound like fun! I'm looking forward to trying them out with some friends! Always a good idea to bring along some entertainment!

        BRAVO to you for deleting a nasty comment and informing the person what a jerk they are! I will not tolerate that nonsense on my site either! TROLLS need to know they are not wanted on HP!!!

      • profile image

        Tamara Moore 

        18 months ago

        Thank you, Sparkster, for helping to defend us against these abusers; I became very much fed-up with the one who kept showing up on my HubPages commenting about how "it is the victim's faults for making such bad choices". I tried to explain to him, over and over, that with Covert Abuse, we cannot see who they really are until it is too late. But, the abusive commenter merely side-stepped my explanations, and continued on with his relentless comments.

        I finally told him that no more of his comments would be approved until he got more educated on Covert Narcissists and Sociopaths. He believed he was quite "dashing".

        Tamara

      • sparkster profile imageAUTHOR

        Sparkster Publishing 

        18 months ago from United Kingdom

        Dear Mr D.Rage,

        Abuse will not be tolerated on my articles. Your comment has been denied. Please go play your childish games somewhere else and pick on someone your own size, or at least go and seek psychiatric help for your mental health problems.

        Your IP address has been logged.

        Thank you.

        * the comment was targeted at you Tamara and you Chitrangada *

      • profile image

        Tamara Moore 

        19 months ago

        Wow! Ha Ha...

      • sparkster profile imageAUTHOR

        Sparkster Publishing 

        2 years ago from United Kingdom

        The elephant trick is a pretty common one.

        There are quite a few mind tricks like this that can be a lot of fun, some of them are a bit more extreme though. I'm thinking of writing an article about the more extreme ones.

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 

        2 years ago from New Delhi, India

        Very nice mind tricks and it is so thoughtful of you to write a hub about it. We do play some of them with friends and family but it would be easier to remember them if written like this.

        Enjoyed going through your hub. Thank you for sharing!

      • livetech profile image

        Paul Levy 

        2 years ago from United Kingdom

        Nice tricks. I've had someone do the grey elephant one to me before... now it's time for me to have a go!

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