Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition

Paperback
Although we live in a technologically advanced society, superstition is as widespread as it has ever been. Far from limited to athletes and actors, superstitious beliefs are common among people of all occupations and every educational and income level. Here, Stuart Vyse investigates our proclivity towards these irrational beliefs. Superstitions, he writes, are the natural result of several well-understood psychological processes, including our human sensitivity to coincidence, a penchant for developing rituals to fill time (to battle nerves, impatience, or both), our efforts to cope with uncertainty, the need for control, and more. Vyse examines current behaviou ral research to demonstrate how complex and paradoxical human behaviour can be understood through scientific investigation, while he addresses the personality features associated with superstition and the roles of superstitious beliefs in actions. Although superstition is a normal part of human culture, Vyse argues that we must provide alternative methods of coping with life's uncertainties by teaching decision analysis, promoting science education, and challenging ourselves to critically evaluate the sources of our beliefs.