- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Superstitions can improve performance by boosting confidence
Superstitions run rampant in our daily lives. Sportsmen wear lucky clothes that they refuse to wash during tournaments. Actors refer to Shakespeare’s Macbeth as “The Scottish Play” within the confines of a theatre, because the name is said to be cursed. Everywhere, people knock on wood, cross their fingers and carry lucky mascots.
It’s easy enough to dismiss these beliefs as the silly by-products of irrational minds, but Lysann Damisch from the University of Cologne has found an upside to superstition – they can improve our performance in a variety of tasks, from physical challenges to memory games. It’s all to do with self-confidence. Pandering to luck-related superstitions, by crossing your fingers in hope or saying “break a leg”, can