Superstitions Explained Simply

Superstitions – All You Need To Know

In this post, we’ll unpack all you need to know about superstitions, defining exactly what they are, why we form them, the science behind them, why they tend to work for some people and more.

What Are Superstitions?

Superstitions are irrational beliefs that make connections between events and which are thought to have a positive influence on one’s fate or destiny.

Why Do Humans Form Superstitions?

Humans form superstitions to cope with uncertainty and gain a sense of control over unpredictable events. This provides psychological comfort and reduces anxiety.

The Science Behind Superstitions

The brain is a pattern recognition machine. It’s constantly making associations about what leads to pain and what leads to pleasure so it can better predict the future and better enhance our survival.

When you have any “negative” experience that leads to pain or any “positive” experience that leads to pleasure, in an effort to either avoid (pain) or repeat (pleasure) the experience in the future, your brain will look for associations to explain why it happened.

Your brain then associates a specific cause with a specific effect ― even if it’s not the actual true cause. This ultimately creates a belief: “When X happens, Y happens.”

In short, superstitions come from seeing causation where there is none.

Why Do They Work?

Studies show that people who engage in personal rituals tend to be more successful in their endeavours. So why do superstitions work?

The answer is because they provide a sense of certainty. Since certainty is associated with the execution of outcomes, then the more certainty you have in a belief, the more likely you are to produce your desired outcome, which creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Believe and your belief will create the fact.” ― William James

Summary (TL;DR)

Superstitions are irrational beliefs that connect events that are unrelated and thought to have a positive influence on one’s fate or destiny.

Humans form them as a strategy to gain a sense of perceived control of life events. This decreases uncertainty and increases certainty.

They work because they provide a sense of certainty. Since certainty is associated with the execution of outcomes, then the more certainty one has in a belief, the more likely one is to produce their desired outcome.

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