What’s the Latest Development?
Sociological researchers have recently investigated why we are so careful not to tempt fate even though we readily admit to not believing in superstitious thinking. In a survey, a majority of respondents said that sporting a Stanford t-shirt just after applying to the school would decrease one’s chance of being accepted. About half of the same respondents said they felt that giving away a lottery ticket would increase the chances that the ticket would win. In another experiment, people asked to perform taxing mathematical calculations believed more in superstitions, suggesting that logical reasoning is a finite faculty.
What’s the Big Idea?
While only a truly deluded person would believe that forgetting the umbrella on an overcast day would increases the likelihood of rain, disobeying superstitious tendencies through sheer willpower may only make you unhappy. Sociologists say that going against any superstition, no matter how silly, can feel like tempting fate because of the “anticipated regret of misfortune after flouting conventional wisdom. … So if you’d feel worse falling into a pothole after walking under a ladder than after walking around the ladder, by all means, take the few extra steps to walk around. You won’t regret it.”
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