I have been a student of magic and changing one’s behaviors or beliefs. I have come across an article that provides some validity to the use of lucky charms and the application of superstitions. The next time you cross your fingers or tell someone to break a leg, you may actually be bringing some luck. Superstitious ways of bringing good luck are found in cultures around the world, and it turns out they may be ubiquitous for a very good reason. New research shows that believing in, say, the power of a good luck charm can actually help improve performance in certain situations, even though the charm and event aren’t logically linked.
In a series of experiments at the University of Cologne employing tasks involving memory and motor skills, the scientists studied the effect of behavior and good luck charms in college students.
The first experiment looked at the influence of the concept of good luck in a test of putting a golf ball in the hands of those who were told the golf ball was lucky. Those who received the ball tended to outperform those who didn’t have the “lucky” ball.
A final experiment involved a lucky charm brought by each participant. In a memory test, the participants who were permitted to keep their lucky charms with them performed better.
People often become superstitious when faced with unknown and stressful situations, possibly explaining why athletes and students are often superstitious. Engaging in a superstition could reduce tension related to a high-stakes competition or an exam. As the study showed, superstitious beliefs may also increase a person’s belief in his or her own abilities and talents.
Bottom Line: Superstitious behavior won’t help you win the lottery, but it could help you win a sporting event or pass a test.