Who Is Superstitious?

It is the day before Halloween so there is no better day to write a post about superstition. 

Definition: Superstition is a belief or practice that held without reason.

Uncertainty is a feature of our human existence and, because life is uncertain, people develop superstitions. Not everyone hates uncertainty; some people love it but others hate it and long for security.  Most of us probably fall in between.  Superstition grows when control falters.  It is the attempt to control the uncontrollable.

Traditionally superstitious groups include gamblers, sailors, soldiers, miners, financial investors, and college students.  Of these, athletes, college students and craps players are the people most often studied by researchers because they are easy to find but, as you can see, the other groups have some danger associated with them, making it more understandable that they would be superstitious.

 You will recognize many of these superstitions – Athletes have rituals about food to eat, when to leave the locker room, dressing well, dressing sloppy, not shaving, slapping the hands of scorer, cheering, stacking hands, bouncing the ball a certain number of times, lucky clothes, lucky charms, certain socks worn specific ways.  College students, fearful of exams, have rituals of wearing specific old clothing, carrying a lucky charm, using a special pen, carrying dice, coins, teddy bears.  Gamblers (the best studies are of craps players who rely on luck) have lucky numbers, rub the dice, and snap their fingers.

In spite of the fact that the most superstitious groups have more men than women in them, women tend to be the more superstitious sex. In the only study I know where they tried to describe a superstitious person, here is the profile: Woman, age seems irrelevant, good education is no protection but less educated people tend to be more superstitious, nonreligious, lower intelligence, lower self-esteem, higher fear of death, and having higher anxiety.  This person is more superstitious than her counterpart who has religion, higher intelligence, higher self-esteem, is more normal, has lower anxiety and depression, and has less fear of death.

Another post on superstition (trick or treat???) arrives tomorrow – keep your fingers crossed!

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