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Death drives away superstition: Study

People who believe in fate and destiny tend to dump superstition when faced with their own death, says a recent study.

world Updated: Sep 04, 2010 00:20 IST

People who believe in fate and destiny tend to dump superstition when faced with their own death, says a recent study.

Researchers were surprised to find that study participants' thoughts about their own deaths jolted their superstitious beliefs, because the event happened to be one of extreme uncertainty.

Superstitious behaviour can include actions like wearing a lucky jersey or using good luck charms.

"We theorised that when people thought about death, they would behave more superstitiously in an effort to gain a sense of control over it," said Scott Fluke.

Fluke led the research at the Kansas State University with Russel Webster and Donald Saucier, associate professor of psychology.

"What we didn't expect was that thinking about death would make people feel helpless — like they cannot control it — and that this would actually reduce their superstitious belief," Fluke said.

Based on two studies, Fluke and his team ascribed it to three reasons: to gain control over uncertainty; to overcome feelings of helplessness; and because it is easier to rely on superstition instead of coping strategies.