Olson (a magician) explained that we often feel like we’re not being manipulated even when our choices are in fact being influenced by outside forces.
“The main conclusion that we can draw from this research… is that this feeling of a free choice might be more of a feeling that we have and not something that is directly related to the influences on the decision itself,” Olson said.
We’re likely to fall prey to such influences in many other real-world situations.
For example, you probably think you choose a dish at a restaurant based solely on your personal preference — but your decision may be also influenced by the menu’s layout. Research has shown that you’re most likely to choose either the first or the last item on the menu because those are the ones that immediately attract your attention, although you’ll likely justify the decision by claiming you picked the meal you were craving most.