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Can knocking on wood really undo a jinx ?


Posted on Friday, 4 October, 2013 | Comment icon 22 comments

Four-leaved clovers are thought to provide good luck. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Umberto Salvagnin
Researchers have investigated the alleged effectiveness of several bad luck mitigation techniques.
Those who are superstitious will often try to avoid certain actions that they believe to be bad luck such as walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror or the idea that simply stating that something bad won't or hasn't happened will 'jinx' the situation and make it more likely that it will.

To counter these concepts, some people employ a variety of good luck techniques such as knocking on wood or throwing salt over their shoulder. There is next to no evidence to suggest that doing any of these things has an actual measurable, physical affect on anything whether good or bad, however the psychological impact of these actions can often be all too real.

Researchers conducted a series of experiments in an effort to determine what effect these luck mitigation methods have on people's mindsets and whether there is a difference in the effectiveness of each technique. Participants were each given a number of tasks that included both common 'good luck' actions and actions that were not associated with luck at all.

"Our findings suggest that not all actions to undo a jinx are equally effective," said researcher Jane Risen. "Instead, we find that avoidant actions that exert force away from one's representation of self are especially effective for reducing the anticipated negative consequences following a jinx. Engaging in an avoidant action seems to create the sense that the bad luck is being pushed away."

Source: Science World Report | Comments (22)

Tags: Bad luck


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Lava_Lady on 5 October, 2013, 9:42
Classic example of altering your perception to "change your fortune". A person believing themself to be under a jinx or curse, will naturally focus on and remember the bad things that happen to them coincidentally. This will reinforce the presumption of being under a jinx or curse. The 'countering' of the jinx via some ritual is designed to alter the perception of the believer into a more neutral, or even positive state. Thus they will no longer focus on the bad things that happen coincidentally - they may even notice more of the good things that coincidentally happen. It's the same effect as ... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by Frank Merton on 5 October, 2013, 9:48
When one knocks wood it is because one is boasting, and when the gods hear you boast they will punish you, so knock on some wood to appease them.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Frank Merton on 5 October, 2013, 9:49
I use to think I was a jinx. Every time I would go to a ballgame of my college, they would lose.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Leonardo on 5 October, 2013, 14:37
I've never heard of the "11:11" phenomenon. What it is? People sometimes post on here reporting that whenever they look at a clock, the time is 11:11 (or 3:33, etc.) The claim is that this is a 'paranormal/supernatural ability or occurrence'. Obviously, the real reason is that times which are palindromic, or have a pattern, register much more in our consciousness because our brains are designed to recognise patterns. So, rather than "only look at clocks when the time is 11:11", the claimants are actually only remembering when they looked at a clock at that time. They 'forget' all the other tim... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Lava_Lady on 5 October, 2013, 18:51
People sometimes post on here reporting that whenever they look at a clock, the time is 11:11 (or 3:33, etc.) The claim is that this is a 'paranormal/supernatural ability or occurrence'. Obviously, the real reason is that times which are palindromic, or have a pattern, register much more in our consciousness because our brains are designed to recognise patterns. So, rather than "only look at clocks when the time is 11:11", the claimants are actually only remembering when they looked at a clock at that time. They 'forget' all the other times they looked at a clock and did not register what the ... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by spud the mackem on 6 October, 2013, 9:55
My Gran used a lot of superstious actions,knock on wood was a favourite but she also used to throw a pinch of salt over her left shoulder to get rid of bad luck,strangely enough it worked. i still dont walk under ladders, but then you stand a chance of getting run over by a passing vehicle...oh well thats the way the cookie crumbles.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Frank Merton on 6 October, 2013, 9:59
A common Vietnamese good-luck practice is urinating on a wall; nowadays that gets you a $50 fine so it isn't such good luck any more.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Burt Gummer on 6 October, 2013, 13:26
I use to think I was a jinx. Every time I would go to a ballgame of my college, they would lose. I used to think the same thing about my favorite sports team, then I realized that they just sucked and I had nothing to do with it, lol. My Gran used a lot of superstious actions,knock on wood was a favourite but she also used to throw a pinch of salt over her left shoulder to get rid of bad luck,strangely enough it worked. i still dont walk under ladders, but then you stand a chance of getting run over by a passing vehicle...oh well thats the way the cookie crumbles. My grandmother is VERY supers... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Eternal.Quest.4.Truth on 12 October, 2013, 1:26
It seems to me, with quantum physics lending weight to the old adage, "mind over matter", that these superstitious actions work simply because one believes they will.
Comment icon #22 Posted by TheGreatBeliever on 15 November, 2013, 13:32
Like wat everyone says if thats true there be no unlucky person in this world


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