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Toss Salt and Touch a Hunchback: Superstitious Beliefs and Attributional Style as a Function of Sex and Peer Group Affiliation
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by Melanie A. Kilby, Mandi Berry, and Sheila Brownlow* - Catawba College
Categories: Personality | Social
Research concerning the acquisition of superstition and the social and personal factors relating to superstitious belief is common; however, little is known about joint effects of factors such as peer group affiliation, sex, and time of exposure to a peer group on adherence to superstitions and extraordinary beliefs. First- and fourth-year college students affiliated with traditionally superstitious groups (theater majors and sports players) as well as those without a traditionally superstitious peer group took the Paranormal Beliefs Scale (Tobacyk & Milford, 1983) and the Common Superstition Scale (Blum & Blum, 1974), and completed measures regarding belief in and adherence to horoscopes, belief in theater superstitions, and the practice of sports rituals. In addition, participants also completed indices of attributional style. Results revealed that theater majors reported more beliefs in paranormal phenomena, but that sports players—despite their high internal locus of control—believed more strongly in superstitions. Exposure to superstitious peer groups did not increase peer group effects. Women more than men indicated that they engaged in behavioral superstitions (such as following horoscopes and utilizing object rituals), but men reported stronger beliefs in extraordinary life-forms and spiritualism. The tendency for women to engage in superstitious behaviors may be a function of their tendency to blame themselves for their failures, thus leading them to perform behaviors to attempt to gain an illusion of control over their personal environment.