Why Do We Believe in Superstitions?

Do you halt if a black cat crosses your path? Do you cross your fingers for luck? Do you believe in magic spells? Whether you are superstitious or not, it is for a reason, and British psychologists discuss these reasons in one of the recent articles published in The Psychological Science.

Man crossed fingers

Their research dealt with controlling one’s life. In the article the scientists assert that superstition and strong belief in magic spells are nothing but attempts on part of people to regain the control over their lives which they lost.

Furthermore, the authors hold that control over any situation is so important for people that its absence may be life-threatening: the more control there is, the more advantageous the outcome of any problem would be. But the psychologists stress the fact that people often seek a non-existing link between the events in their lives and believe that there are secret mechanisms that rule our fates.

This is one of our inherent psychological needs. The article goes on to say that at times people are wont to lay blame for their problems on certain events in their past.

Psychologists believe that it leads to the rise of various rituals like wearing protective amulets, fear of “bad omens” and so on. Aiming to disclose the way superstitions spring up, the researchers asked the volunteer participants to write a composition describing an important event in their lives. Some of the participants described events that took place under their control, while the others, on the contrary, remembered things that were beyond their power to control, like illnesses, accidents and suchlike.

A curious fact came out that the participants who described their loss of control over a situation were inclined to believe in different mystic signs and mystic correlations between events much more. The authors say that superstition is a form of compensation for lack of trust in oneself.

Source of the image: Dennis-yu.