Four leaf clovers. Salt over the shoulder. Lucky socks for the game.
Although superstitions abound in many cultures, lots of people think they're bunk. Now a group from the University of Cologne say they've proved that believing in luck can actually boost performance.
The researchers designed four experiments to test the effectiveness of belief in good-luck superstitions. The superstitions were tested to see whether or not they improved subsequent performance in motor dexterity, memory, solving anagrams, or playing golf, reported Physorg.com.
The research is published online in the journal Psychological Science.
In the experiments, the participants either brought their own lucky "charms," were given something they were told was lucky or had some other superstition-based encouragement like a researcher saying "I press the thumbs for you," which is the equivalent of the English saying, "I've got my fingers crossed for you."
In all four experiments, the participants who had a lucky charm or were given encouragement via a common superstitious saying performed significantly better than their control counterparts.
The participants performed better and faster on motor dexterity tests, plus they had more confidence in their own abilities when asked beforehand how they thought they would do.
According to PhysOrg.com, the research is the first time superstitions associated with good luck have been demonstrated to affect future performance beneficially.
Of course, like all lab simulations, take this one with a grain of salt, says Guardian columnist Ben Goldacre.
Still, I won't be throwing out my lucky fishing flannel shirt any time soon.
Image from Flickr.