how does this "mind reading" trick work

Ok, try this (before reading below if you don’t want it spoiled):

I assume it works by using the item that people think of first for each question. I.e., pick a color: red comes up almost always. The gimmics prior to the question are meant to just put you under some anxiety or pressure so that you are likely to pick the first, and most common association. Is that right?

Probibly right on that. The only one that worked for me was the second one, but I don’t know why.

The first two didn’t work for me. I’ve seen the third one, but on the end of another " mind test". Apparently, those two words come to mind when 95 % of the population is asked to name two objects from the stated categories.

I would agree with your hypothesis, but only the first one worked for me- how is it that seven is the most commonly chosen number when it would (by following your theory) be more obvious to choose eight?

First and third worked on me. Odd. I hope someone explains this.

First one worked for me.

Second did not.

Third - partially worked. I picked the tool but a different colour.

9, zucchini, green and megahorn (if that counts as a tool). And I wasn’t even TRYING to beat it, or anything. What a lame test.

Here is another one:

The trick is real in a sense. It counts on the fact that most people brains will tend to latch onto the same things when they were forced to go through a common set of tasks and then told to quickly select an object from a category.

I am not sure if anyone knows all the reasons. One reason is related to stereotyping. If you tell people to quickly think of a “chair” or a “fish”, most people will think of the same stereotype of those things even though there are many types to choose from. Tools and vegetables have their sterotypes of the whole group as well.

I ALWAYS used to pick 7 any time I had to choose a number because I was born on 7/7. It didn’t take me long to realize that 7 is for some reason everyone else’s favorite number too, so I try now to pick any number but 7. For #1 I picked 8.

For #2, I somehow knew the answer was going to be either cucumber or carrot, so onion is what automatically popped into my head. I guess that would count as this one kind of working, but I think I’ve seen it before, many years ago.

#3 I picked a gray hammer, so this one half worked.

I was thinking of a Red Anteater from Latvia. The one I saw probably ~10 years ago tried to force you into a gray elephant from Denmark.

The theatrics at the beginning are irrelevant. If you just walk up to a random person and spontaneously ask them to name a vegetable, most will still say “carrot”. Likewise for all of them.

I once saw an amusing illustration of this… I used to chat online a lot, and the chat room I frequented often had trivia games. By the rules we used, the first person to enter the right answer got credit, and wrong guesses didn’t penalize you at all. So if you were a fast typer, it was to your advantage to exhaustively guess. Well, one time the question was “What color do most people name when asked to name one quickly?”. The first three responses were “red”, and none of us had read any more of the question than “What color…”.

It didn’t work for me at all.

Didn’t work for me either. 'Course I gotta weird brain.
Actually I chose the number three and got into negative numbers. Went and gotta beer out of the fridge immediately. As soon as I can figure the square root of minus 1 I’ll be on my way!

I assumed that the number between 12 and 5 yields 7 fairly frequently because there’s a natural association to 7, that being the difference between the two.

The most often picked numbers between 1 and 10 are 3 or 7, but if you raise it to 1 and 20 they become 7 or 13. By using 1 through 12 you increase the odds of 7 being chosen.
I had a friend, very intelligent, quiet kind of guy. He was in the carny business when he was young and could “see the future”. He could “read” palms, tarot cards, crystal balls, etc. It seemed uncanny how accurate he was and he seemed to be very specific about past and future events. In reality he had simply learned a lot about probability and human nature, he was also skilled in “reading” people.
He was fairly reluctant to “perform”, but w/ a few drinks and among friends, he would do a bit of it.

Test 1: wrong! - I chose 11. If I were a non-mathematician, I would have reviled the calculations and gone for something right in the middle… I can;t say it would’ve been 7, though.

Test 2: right! - I first chose “sex”, but realizing that “sex” wasn’t a vegetable, I defaulted to CARROT, which was amazinging hanging in the buffer…, hmm that was right, [Freud voice]: “Tell me about your mother…”

Test 3: 1/2 right/wrong - PURPLE and HAMMER… I ALWAYS choose PURPLE and the figure of 3’s resembled a hammer, and I was laughing to hard about the CARROT success to want to resist the urge to choose it – pretty wild!