May
14
2008

Superstition is logical

Let a smile be your umbrella, and you’ll get a mouth full of rain.: Better safe than sorry, doncha’ know.
Let a smile be your umbrella, and you’ll get a mouth full of rain.: Better safe than sorry, doncha’ know.Courtesy Christiane Michaud

Up is down. Black is white. Ignorance is double-plus ungood. But a new study shows why this one actually makes a bit of sense.

Professors at Cornell University had groups of students read various different stories. In some, a character acts prudently; in others, the character tempts fate – for instance, failing to bring an umbrella when there’s rain in the forecast. The stories end with something bad happening – it rains – and the students were asked whether or not the conclusion made sense.

The correct answer is “yes,” no matter which story a student reads. But those who read about the person tempting fate responded more quickly.

The professors call this reflexive thinking. An action which “tempts fate” causes out minds, by reflex, to think of the negative possibilities. And while there is no connection between carrying an umbrella and “making” it rain, the superstition does have several benefits:

  • By focusing our attention on the possible negative outcome, we are ready for it and better able to respond.
  • The actions used to ward off the negative outcome – such as carrying an umbrella to “prevent” rain – often leave us better prepared in the event of the bad thing actually happening.

No word on how this relates to horseshoes and rabbit’s feet.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Amanda's picture
Amanda says:

i think this is just about having more common sense then what we really use but based on colors or the mood of that specific day

posted on Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:55am
Looney_Tooney's picture
Looney_Tooney says:

WoW!!
That is pretty cool...

U Kno Wat Im Sayin!!!

posted on Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:59am
tiffany_88's picture
tiffany_88 says:

It's great when u think in something positive and refleexive can be increase u way of thinking.

posted on Thu, 05/15/2008 - 10:04am
nelson.robin's picture
nelson.robin says:

thats real coo

posted on Thu, 05/15/2008 - 10:13am
Candice_318's picture
Candice_318 says:

My mom always told me if you believe in god why belive in superstition

posted on Thu, 05/15/2008 - 10:18am
Jefflemus00's picture
Jefflemus00 says:

Lately, I've had bad feelings that my life was gonna start to plunge. So I started preparing (mentally) for these events. What I did was, think about what could happen (almost all possible outcomes having to do with a specific topic, NOT every single little bad thing that could possibly happen to me.) After, I thought about what I could do ( for each case) to get the least possible negative outcome. It worked!

posted on Thu, 05/15/2008 - 10:27am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options