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The Strange Power of Unlucky Charms -- Science of Us

Assigning luck to an object

There are generally three ways we give luck to an object.

  • Through association: A penny you had the day you met your partner.
  • Through symbolism: Like a sock with four-leaf clovers or black cats printed on them.
  • Magical contagion: The idea that there is some essence or physical property that can rub off from contacting it.

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The Strange Power of Unlucky Charms -- Science of Us

The Strange Power of Unlucky Charms -- Science of Us

https://www.thecut.com/2016/06/the-strange-power-of-unlucky-charms.html

thecut.com

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Key Ideas

The effects of the unlucky charm

Research shows that lucky charms have real, positive effects. But unlucky things have their own kind of power.

The story behind a physical item we own matters. From living spaces to engagement rings to clothing, we tend to take hold of the stories behind the item as if we will follow a similar outcome.

Assigning luck to an object

There are generally three ways we give luck to an object.

  • Through association: A penny you had the day you met your partner.
  • Through symbolism: Like a sock with four-leaf clovers or black cats printed on them.
  • Magical contagion: The idea that there is some essence or physical property that can rub off from contacting it.

Bad associations

According to research, secondhand engagement rings are much less likely to sell if the listing indicated that the previous owner had been through a divorce or a broken engagement. One explanation is that we believe that various properties can be transmitted through contact.

Sometimes, you create the story yourself. The item has to be prominent in the situation. But if the item is branded as unlucky, it's hard to forget the association.

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