Superstitions are defined as a kind of story or tale that relies on misinformation to help humans understand events that can be otherwise explained with science, facts or numbers. In other words, superstition is seen as a strong belief that specific actions, things or events will influence the amount of perceived luck or fortune that a person has. However, it should be noted that superstitions are beliefs that can easily be proven by science or facts. Instead, these stories are based on a kind of blind tribal wisdom that has become deeply ingrained in pop culture and communities.
Common superstitions that you might have come across include beliefs that walking under ladders will bring bad luck, seeing a black cat will cause you misfortune for the day and that sometimes, beginner’s have a higher quota of luck. To see how much these kinds of superstitions have taken hold of the average American’s psyche, we interviewed more than 2000 individuals to bring you cold and hard facts instead.
More than 40% of our group were honest right away and described themselves as moderately to intensely superstitious. On the other hand, the remaining 60% of our group confirmed that they believe superstitions to be rather tall, albeit fun, tales instead of facts that influence their lives.
While the participants were confident about their answers at first, deeper questioning revealed that not all superstitious beliefs were created equally, with some spanning geographical distances and large amounts of time.
As far as commonly believed, or prevalent, superstitions go, knocking on wood took first place. This belief requires people to literally knock on wood to avoid jinxing a situation or bringing in bad luck after predicting something horrible would happen. Basically, it is a superstition that can be used to remind people to remain realistic and not too optimistic or pessimistic in life. Meanwhile, the concept that a horseshoe above the doorway denotes good luck and riches came in last. Perhaps the scarcity of blacksmiths and commuting horses contributed to this fable's last-place finish in recent times but could have been far more widely believed in the past.
There are only a few points of distinction between how men and women view superstitions. First and foremost, males place a higher value on beginner's luck than any other superstition, while women believe that knocking on wood is the most reliable. Seven is a lucky number for men, according to the answers provided, which makes the lucky number superstition one of the top five superstitions in the US.
Although it's simple to think of and recall bad superstitions, such as the number 666 or smashing a mirror, the majority of men and women who labelled themselves superstitious were far more concentrated on luck and positive ideas. For both men and women, picking up lost pennies, wishing on stars, crossing fingers for luck, discovering four-leaf clovers, and beginner's luck entered the top ten.
There were distinct differences amongst the three generations in the world today, with millennials placing a higher value on beginner's luck and crossing fingers than any other generation.
They don't believe in doom and gloom, only in the possibility that the next hand life deals could be positive. In a way, millennials are a very optimistic bunch.
Generation Xers, which is by far the most superstitious group, balanced positivity with negative consequences, and some even referenced a wishbone's magical ability for making dreams come true. On the other hand, Baby Boomers are more hesitant to believe in superstitions, so stay away from them on Friday the 13th. However, they are more prone to assume that the number 13 is unlucky which is an interesting find.
When we look at the data by region and state, we can see that some parts of the country are more suspicious than others. The South, home to New Orleans and American Voodoo, was voted the most superstitious of the group, which makes sense. These superstitions and stories founded in fantasy and magic are an inherent part of the culture in the South.
The Northeast came in second, probably as a result of its connection to the Salem Witch Trials. If you are wondering where the folks most likely to keep a rabbit's foot or a fortunate penny are in the United States, the West was our least superstitious region so it certainly won’t be here.
The South and West, more than the Midwest and Northeast, turn to the sky for luck. Perhaps it's partly because it's so simple to view the sky in these regions! With 80 percent of the population living in cities with the presence of artificial lights obstructing our view of the night sky, wishing on a star isn't always a viable option when you need to make a life-changing wish.
In addition, the South and West have a higher concentration of International Dark Sky Parks, such as Death Valley and Bryce Canyon, which have been confirmed to provide the best possible opportunities for witnessing a shooting star and then making a wish. However, there are no suggestions for your wish so make sure that you arrive with something in mind.
With more than 40% of those polled believing in superstitions, they may be as much a part of the American national identity as apple pie, baseball, and obscenely enormous Fourth of July fireworks displays.
Perhaps it's just comforting to assume that something is pulling for you to succeed or have something good happen. For that reason, we advise you to participate in your superstitions.
To get the answers and data that we’ve shared in this article, we interviewed more than 2000 US citizens about their stance on superstitions and which beliefs influenced their lives.
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