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Magical thinking is something we associate with children, but adults engage in a lot of magical thinking as well. The difference is that they aren’t aware of it and if asked, will generally deny it.

The experimental findings, in the paper “Washing Away Your (Good or Bad) Luck: Physical Cleansing Affects Risk-Taking Behavior,” converge with anecdotal reports of superstitious practices, such as an athlete wearing the same unwashed shirt during a winning streak, and show that magical beliefs about luck have behavioral consequences.

Magical beliefs are exhibited, for example, by having confidence in one’s ability to predict the outcome of a random event beyond the known probabilities if one can exert irrelevant control on the situation. For example, research has shown people are more confident they will have a winning scratch-off lottery ticket if they pick the ticket instead of being given one by a clerk.

Debriefing conversations with participants suggest that people remain unaware of these influences, as has also been observed in other studies. Although participants are familiar with the underlying metaphors and related superstitious practices, they do not realize that this knowledge is applicable to the experiment and, needless to say, insist that they would never be influenced by such a thing. –Science Daily


Writing Prompt: Write a scene in which your character engages in some unconscious superstitious behavior.

Journaling Prompt: Do you use any superstitious rituals to create a feeling of control in your life?

Art Prompt: Lucky rituals
Nonfiction / SpeechwritingPrompt: Tell your audience a humorous story about a ritual you have used in the past.

Photo Credit: dollen on Flickr

3 Responses to Prompt #74: Washing Away Luck

  1. Claire says:

    Magical thinking – I immediately thought of Joan Didion, who has raised the profile of the concept of magical thinking with her aptly titled and wonderful book ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’, her account of the passing away of her husband and her minds effort to try and bring/imagine him back.
    Claire recently posted..The Lacuna by Barbara KingsolverMy Profile

  2. Robin Hawke says:

    Interesting…I’m curious about corollary findings, whether there are findings that show whether people who pick their own lottery numbers win more than people who don’t?

    Robin
    Robin Hawke recently posted..Letter HomeMy Profile

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