Methodological and theoretical improvements in the study of superstitious beliefs and behaviour

Authors

  • Scott M. Fluke,

    1. Department of Psychology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA
    2. School Psychology Graduate Program at University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
    • The first and second authors contributed equally to the preparation of this paper. Russell J. Webster is now at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, USA.
  • Russell J. Webster,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA
    • Correspondence should be addressed to Russell J. Webster, Psychological Science, Gustavus Adolphus College, 252 Beck Hall, St. Peter, MN 56082, USA (e-mail: rwebster@gustavus.edu).

    Search for more papers by this author
    • The first and second authors contributed equally to the preparation of this paper. Russell J. Webster is now at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, USA.
  • Donald A. Saucier

    1. Department of Psychology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Via four studies (= 901), we developed an improved Belief in Superstition Scale (BSS) composed of three distinct components (belief in bad luck, belief in good luck, and the belief that luck can be changed), whose structure was supported through exploratory (Study 1) and confirmatory (Studies 2 and 3) factor analyses using divergent samples. We found that among theoretical predictors, higher ‘chance’ locus of control (i.e., the belief that chance/fate controls one's life) best predicted all three BSS subscales (Studies 2–3). In Study 3, we found that BSS subscale scores were reliable, but largely invariant across age and education with a non-general psychology sample. In Study 4, the BSS subscales best predicted participants’ superstitious attitudes and behaviour in a new lottery drawing paradigm among other commonly used superstition scales. Taken together, our results indicate that the BSS is a valuable addition to the burgeoning research on superstitious attitudes and behaviour.

Ancillary