Monday, September 13, 2010

Superstitions work

Sweetheart Vivienne’s superb book Alzheimer’s: A Love Story is published by Scribe Publishing [1]. Scribe also publishes The Brain That Changes Itself [2]. One of its main axioms is ‘Neurons that fire together wire together’ [3]. So last Thursday when Sweetheart Vivienne alerted me to a NYT article titled ‘Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits’ [4], I immediately thought of my lucky exam shirt. It was pastel plaid (pictured). Short sleeved. With a rounded (i.e. not pointed) collar. I can’t recall if I bought it or it was a gift. I started wearing it to exams in my early to mid teens. I did okay, so I wore it to more exams. Indeed I only wore it to exams – I didn’t want it to wear out because none of my other shirts had an exam track record. I don’t have it anymore. My mum gave it away. She knew it was my lucky exam shirt, but she thought it hadn’t made any difference to my exam results. According to a German research paper in the May issue of the journal Psychological Science, she was wrong and I was right. Its title’s self-explanatory: ‘Keep Your Fingers Crossed: How Superstition Improves Performance’ [5]. The research shows that superstitious beliefs, rituals and objects shouldn’t be underestimated – because they produce a genuine and consistent improvement in motor and cognitive performance. So if you have a lucky garment, charm or ritual, chances are it’s truly beneficial. Ho hum.

1 comment:

Kate said...

What a shame she chucked it.
I certainly could have benefitted from a few wears of the exam shirt myself.
Have a great week. X