Superstitions And Magical Thinking, What Are They?

We will talk about superstitions and what is known as magical thinking. Why are we so scared of Tuesday the 13th?

How do superstitions affect us?

On the one hand, a superstition is a belief contrary to reason that attributes a “magical” explanation to the generation of phenomena, processes and their relationships. That is, it is the unfounded and irrational belief that certain practices, rituals or certain events can alter destiny or luck of a person.

What types of superstitions exist?

There are superstitions of different kinds, positive and negative, let’s look at some examples:

  • Superstitions that generate misfortune, attract bad luck: for example, breaking a mirror that generates 7 years of bad luck, going under a ladder, coming across a black cat, spilling salt, on Tuesdays and Fridays the 13th, opening an umbrella indoors, etc.
  • Superstitions against bad luck or that attract good luck: touching a wooden object when hearing something that we do not want to happen, finding a 4-leaf clover, horseshoes, having amulets such as a rabbit’s foot, special stones, passing the lottery ticket through the belly of a pregnant woman, etc.

What is magical thinking?

On the other hand, what is called magical thinking It is the fact of attributing an effect to a fact, without there being a cause-effect relationship between them, at least not a scientifically verifiable one. That is, it would be the attribution of mental properties to non-mental phenomena or vice versa. Have you ever treated your own thoughts as if they had a physical influence on the real world? That is, have you thought that your thoughts can affect reality? Let’s give an example: My parents are going on vacation and if I don’t say goodbye to them, something may happen to them, or they may think of something bad that we don’t want to happen and believe that there is a greater chance of it happening because they have thought about it.

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Why do superstitions exist?

In both cases we are attributing power which we do not have since no matter how much we think about something there is no more possibility or probability of it happening. As with superstitions, it would be believing that certain things are destined to happen through the intervention of any divinity.

It is really interesting that even today, where we live in a world that is aware of science and technology, many people continue to believe in these types of thoughts. The psychologist Matthew Hutson wrote a book called “The 7 laws of magical thinking” where he clarifies that most people cling to such thoughts because they make them happy, healthy and sane.

Why do these two phenomena happen?

In the end they are beliefs and a belief is a model or idea created by the mind to satisfy a desire, generally about a fact for which a rational explanation is unknown or not accepted. People who share a belief will accept this argument and act accordingly, establishing rituals that are like norms. Hence superstitions are passed from generation to generation.

In the case of magical thinking it is simply satisfying the desire to have a certain control over events that occur on a daily basis, to feel safe from bad things happening to us. But the control is completely irrational… If it weren’t like that… we are sure that more than one person this year would have won the lottery for thinking about it so much.