Lucky charms really work – say researchers
Recent research by the University of Cologne in Germany has demonstrated that belief in a lucky charm really does improve performance.
See the Cologne report published in the American Journal of Psychological Science.
Why are some of the world’s best athletes also some of the most superstitious? How can a good luck charm (or simply good luck wishes from a friend or colleague) sometimes improve someone’s success at a task?
Because belief in a lucky charm actually does work . . according to a study by psychologists at the University of Cologne, in Germany.
“I watch a lot of sports . . and I noticed that very often athletes hold superstitions,” says Lysann Damisch, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University, and head researcher for the report. Michael Jordan wore his college team shorts underneath his NBA uniform for good luck; Tiger Woods wears a red shirt on tournament Sundays, usually the last and most important day of a tournament.
(Even President Obama carried lucky charms when he was running for President of the United States (see photo above of Obama displaying his lucky charms during a press conference)).
Damisch wondered why they did this. She thought that a belief in superstition might help people do better by improving their confidence. So, with her colleagues Barbara Stoberock and Thomas Mussweiler, she designed a set of experiments to see if activating people’s superstitious beliefs would actually improve their performance on a task.
In one of the experiments, volunteers were told to bring a lucky charm with them. Then the researchers took it away to take a picture. Half of the volunteers were given their charm back before the test started; the other half were told there was a problem with the camera and they would get it back later. Volunteers who had their lucky charm did better in a series of tests. They felt more confident and set higher goals for themselves.
Indeed, simply wishing someone good luck was shown to improve their success at a task. “This is especially true in situations where people feel a bit insecure and thus want to gain some confidence . . for example, before a tournament, an exam, a job interview, an audition. Our results suggest that it is helpful to have a little lucky charm close by,” said Damisch.
So don’t scoff at those good luck charms . This new research shows that having some kind of lucky token really can improve performance . . by increasing self-confidence and faith.
This research was published in Psychological Science, the journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
But this is by no means the first scientific study into the authenticity (or otherwise) of so called lucky charms. In 2004, researchers from the universities of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Hertfordshire, England (including the well-renowned Richard Wiseman) conducted experiments relating to good fortune and concluded that lucky charms mattered. See their conclusions into why lucky charms matter .
Clearly Mr. Obama thought they made a difference during his election campaign . . he won. And here he is holding one sold by our online lucky charm gift shop!