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Archive for October, 2013

How to Reverse a Jinx or Bad Luck via Brain Science

October 10th, 2013 by Admin | No Comments | Filed in Brain & Perception, Inspirational Stuff

A new study from by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business indicates that some actions to undo what is perceived to be a jinx or bad luck often work better than others – plus the news that these actions can actually work!

Being jinxed is a matter of one’s own personal perception of belief, and our beliefs about ourselves and our fates tend to be self-fulfilled. Furthermore we tend to “bring” to ourselves that which we fear and place out focus upon.For example, most of us have a reasonable fear of certain animals that can harm or attack humans such as lions, tigers and grizzly bears. Yet we give little thought to these fears, especially if we live in modern civilized areas because we live in areas where these animals are absent.  

Fears that people can and do focused on in modern industrial societies involve concerns with one’s personal financial state, accidents, health and relationships.  A person can feel jinxed in one of these areas by a comment made by another or that slips out of one’s own mouth. Even a positive comment, such as the news that a disease is in remission or an investment is doing well, can be perceived to be “tempting fate.’

To undo a jinx, the most common superstition in Western culture is the action of knocking on wood. Other popular actions based on superstitions that people believe will reverse or thwart bad fortune spitting or throwing salt.  Even people who aren’t particularly superstitious often participate in these practices.

According to the new study, superstitions actually do “reverse” perceived bad fortune. Actually, what occurs is that people’s elevated concerns after tempting fate can be eliminated if they engage in a ritual to undo the then expected bad luck.

The ritual superstitious action acts like a placebo, taking away the need for the person who felt jinxed to focus attention on that fear.

The study found that the most effective rituals for overcoming bad luck involved am exertion of force that moves away from one’s body, such as knocking on work, spitting or throwing salt. Actions that moved towards one’s body were less effective.

In five separate experiments that involved both superstition-based actions and non-superstitious actions of “discarding away from the body, or keeping something close, the results showed that those people who preformed the away focused action had a better outcome. For example, one of the non-superstition based actions involved having a subject participant either throw or hold a ball.

“Engaging in an avoidant action seems to create the sense that the bad luck is being pushed away,” said Jane Risen, associate professor of behavioral science at Chicago Booth.“Reversing One’s Fortune by Pushing Away Bad Luck,” is the name of the study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Co-authors are Yan Zhang of National University of Singapore and former Chicago Booth student, and Christine Hosey, a current Chicago Booth student.
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