When superstition becomes a failure to perform - Deepstash

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The science of superstition – and why people believe in the unbelievable

When superstition becomes a failure to perform

While superstitions can provide reassurance and help reduce anxiety in some people, research has shown that it can also become self-reinforcing, meaning the behavior develops into a habit, and failure to perform the ritual can result in anxiety.

This is regardless of the actual outcome of a situation that is still dependent on known factors and not unknown supernatural forces.

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A belief in supernatural forces
A belief in supernatural forces

Superstitious individuals believe in fate as a way to resolve uncertainty and gain some sense of control. They look for a connection between co-occurring, non-related events, such ...

Superstitions can promote both positive and negative attitudes
  • Superstitious beliefs promote a positive mental attitude, but it can lead to irrational decisions, such as trusting in good luck rather than sound decision making. For example, carrying charms or wearing certain clothes.
  • Superstitions can also give rise to the idea that objects and places are cursed, such as the Annabelle Doll who is said to be inhabited by the spirit of a dead girl, or the number 666 that is associated with evil things.
Sporting superstitions

80% of professional athletes admit to engaging with at least one superstitious behaviour before a performance. Superstitions are known to reduce tension and give a sense of control over chance factors.

Within football, gymnastics, and athletics, competitors are found to pray for success, checking their appearance and dressing well to feel in control. They also wear lucky charms.

Believing in luck
Believing in luck

Luck is a hard thing to prove. There is no real thing we can call luck, but we can create a real object and transfer luck to it, such as a lucky penny or a lucky charm.

Studies on lucky charms
  • Studies reveal that people perform better on tasks when they have a lucky charm with them. During a series of memory tasks, students who were allowed to keep their lucky charms performed better than students who had their charms taken away.
  • Attitude plays a big role in luck. Someone who believes they are lucky will try harder at a challenging task. That persistence can have a self-reinforcing effect. The harder the task they take on, the more chance of success, increasing the belief that they are lucky.
A positive attitude and luck

A positive attitude towards life makes it seem like more happy events happen for a person.

While it is not rational to believe in luck, understanding the psychology behind it can explain why some people seem to be successful while others can never get to the top.

Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, in the area that is now Ireland.  On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the gho...

All Saints' Day
  • On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1.
  • The influence of Christianity spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church made November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was probably done to replace the Celtic festival.
  • All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints’ Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas, and eventually, Halloween.
Halloween Comes to America

The celebration of Halloween was limited in colonial New England, but as the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups and the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with Irish immigrants, fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. This helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.