• The Effect of Superstitious Thinking on Psychosocial Stress Responses and Perceived Task Performance

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Teo, Wan Yee; University of Chester; James Cook University Singapore (Wiley, 2018-02-18)
      Abstract Previous research on superstition, a subset of paranormal belief, suggests that people tend to invoke luck-related superstitions in stressful situations as an attempt to gain an illusion of control over outcomes. Based on this, the current study examined whether luck-related superstition, in the form of a ‘lucky’ pen, could influence the psychological response to a psychosocial stressor. Participants (N =114) aged between 17 and 59 years (M = 22.98, SD = 4.57) from James Cook University Singapore, were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (1) no-stress with no ‘lucky’ pen; (2) no-stress with a ‘lucky’ pen; (3) stress with no ‘lucky’ pen; (4) stress with a ‘lucky’ pen. The results revealed that participants provided with a “lucky” pen experienced lower state anxiety when exposed to the stressor. Further, participants provided with a ‘lucky’ pen perceived their performance to be better than those without it. However, superstitious belief did not significantly change following exposure to stress. Taken together, the present findings add some support to the suggestion that belief in transferable luck may facilitate coping with a stressor. However, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind the potential benefits of superstitious belief.
    • An Exploration of the Benefits of Animal-Assisted Activities in Undergraduate Students in Singapore

      Muckle, Jolene; Lasikiewicz, Nicola; University of Chester; James Cook University, Singapore (Wiley, 2017-04)
      The rise in psychological problems, attrition and suicide rates of university students has been linked to the stressful challenges faced during university life. To buffer this, Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) may assist in improving psychological and physiological well-being in students, however, to date, there is little empirical evidence for their effectiveness. Consequently, this study explored the psychological and physiological benefits of AAA in a sample of undergraduate students. Sixty-two students from two local universities participated in an hour-long AAA session delivered by Therapy Dogs Singapore (TDS). Measures of perceived stress, anxiety, state self-esteem, and blood pressure (BP) were taken before and after the sessions. The results indicated that students experienced significant decreases in state anxiety, systolic and diastolic BP post AAA, and when compared to a quiet reading comparison session. State self-esteem increased post AAA and, further, was found to moderate the change in anxiety in addition to perceived stress, whereby, perceived anxiety reduced more in those with low state self-esteem and high perceived stress. These results suggest that AAA can be an effective intervention for stress among undergraduate students, which utilizes a novel, easy to implement and enjoyable approach for Singaporean students.