By Daniel Bates | DailyMail.co.uk
They are taken to exams, job interviews and weddings in the hope they will bring good fortune.
But rather than being mere superstition, lucky charms do actually work, psychologists claim.
Researchers told half the golfers on a putting green that they were playing with a lucky ball, and the rest that they were playing with a normal one.
The research found that golfers given a ílucky ballí managed to sink 35 per cent more putts than those who were playing with an ordinary ball
Those with the lucky ball sank 6.4 putts out of 10, nearly two more putts on average than the others - an increase of of 35 per cent.
The results have sparked huge interest among behavioural psychologists who say they put luck in a different light.
The research from the University of Cologne was on just 28 students but the results are being considered significant.
But the figures will also be an encouragement for the millions who cling to a lucky shirt or ring on special occasions to bring them fortune.
And even celebrities have often admitted relying on a lucky charm.
Cameron Diaz has a necklace given to her by a friend because she thinks it will ward off the effects of aging, while Julie Walters kept a lucky piece of coal in her bag during one Oscars ceremony.
Perhaps the most bizarre tradition among celebrities is that Atonement star James McAvoy says íwhite rabbití on the first of every month to the first person he sees - because his grandmother taught him that it brings good luck.
In recent years office desks have seen a proliferation of teddy bears and trinkets intended to bring good luck.
Also, quiz shows such as Deal Or No Deal and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire where treasured items are brought on in the hope they will give contestants the edge in the quest to win a fortune.
Lysann Damisch, co-author of the study, set to be published in the journal Psychological Science in June, said: íOur results suggest that the activation of a superstition can indeed yield performance-improving effects.í
Stuart Vyse, professor of psychology at Connecticut College, added: íSimply being told this is a lucky ball is sufficient to affect performance.í
Mathematicians have demonstrated in the past the role that randomness plays in peopleís lives, but this has not stopped many believing the opposite.
A recent survey found that 77 per cent of people were at least a little superstitious and/or engaged in some form of superstitious behaviour.
A total of 42 per cent said that they were ívery or somewhatí superstitious.
Peter Thall, a biostatistician at the University of Texas, said: íThe idea that wearing a red shirt, saying some sort of incantation or prayer or carrying a lucky charm will bring good luck is very appealing because it gives people the illusion that they have some degree of control over future events in their lives.í
íThe painful truth is that we have little or no control over the most important events in our lives.í
Sometimes, however, people overestimate how much control they have over their lives.
A team of British researchers in 2003 asked 107 traders at investment banks to play a game simulating a live stock exchange.
They were told that pressing the letters Z, X and C on the keyboard ímay have some effect on the index,í when in fact it didnít.
Traders in the study who held this false belief the strongest had lower salaries, indicating the idea they made their own luck could be harming their decisions.
Article from: DailyMail.co.uk
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