• 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.