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Stress 'makes people more superstitious'

world Updated: Oct 03, 2008 13:43 IST
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Believe it or not, stress makes people "more superstitious".

A new study has revealed that stress makes people more likely to "see" things that actually do not exist.

And, according to researchers, feeling lack of control over their life fuels many people's desire to impose order and structure on the world, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

Lead researcher Prof Adam Galinsky of Northwestern University said: "The less control people've over their lives, the more likely they are to try and regain control through mental gymnastics.

"Feelings of control are so important to people that a lack of control is threatening. While some misperceptions can be bad or lead one astry, they are extremely common and most likely satisfy a deep and enduring psychological need."

For their study, the researchers asked half of a group of volunteers to remember a situation when they felt a lack of control, such as a car crash, when a close family member had been ill or when they had felt under threat.

They then conducted a series of experiments, including asking the participants if they saw images in "snowy" pictures made up of dots. Half of the photos contained dots arranged randomly, while the other half made up faintly recognisable pictures, such as a chair, a boat or a planet.