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Men can gamble more money after a fortune, even if they don’t believe in it

According to a new study, men who receive a positive prediction of their future are more likely to bet larger amounts of money even if they don’t believe in divination. But there doesn’t seem to be such a reaction among women.

The research highlights a curious aspect of human behavior: people tend to follow superstitions, whether they profess to believe in them or not.

Psychologists think this could be because they want to maintain an illusion of control, which superstition gives them, or they want to impose a sense of order as a psychological defense against random events, which sounds like an observer like adherence to superstition. .

The study suggests that seemingly irrational superstitions can affect decision-making – even relatively big financial decisions that many people believe are governed by rash analysis, said psychologist Xiaoyue Tan, a researcher at Erasmus University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

“Superstition suggesting that luck is coming may increase men’s expectations of ‘beat the odds’, decrease anxiety, provide justification for a risky choice, and therefore increase men’s risky behaviors,” a she said in an email.

Tan is the lead author of the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One that reported the findings.

The researchers used a smartphone fortune-telling app — supposedly based on things like a user’s date of birth and favorite color, but in fact purely random — to conduct experiments with more than 600 participants.

They found that men who received positive fortune said in subsequent questions – after completing another task to “distract” them from the divination stage of the app – that they were more likely to take fortunes. financial risks and to gamble more heavily, although most of them claimed not to believe in divination.

Tan said she hopes to continue her research to see if the results are valid when real money is at stake.

The researchers saw no signs of such a pronounced link in women. Tan thinks it’s likely because the experiment specifically tested the likelihood of taking financial risks, which previous research has shown men are more likely to do.

“In general, men are more inclined to take financial risks than women,” she said in an email, perhaps to gain resources, social status or quality companions. .

But the researchers didn’t expect to see such a correlation between genders: “Men were significantly affected by positive divination, while women were not,” she said.

They also found that men in the experiments were more likely than women to say they strongly believed in superstition, “and these stronger superstitious beliefs were associated with greater financial risk-taking,” Tan said.

Psychologist and writer Stuart Vyse, author of “Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition” and former professor at Connecticut College in New London, explained that people are more likely to behave superstitious even when they pretend not to. believe in superstitions.

Whether these unbelievers obeyed superstitions to gain an illusion of control or to attempt to impose order on random events depended primarily on the types of superstitions involved and the tasks they performed, said Vyse, who was not not involved in the study.

“People in these situations often say, ‘I know it’s silly, but I’ll feel better if I follow that superstition anyway,'” he said. “So they’re sort of in two minds about it.”

He also noted that fortune telling is somewhat different from some other types of superstition because it occurs before the event it is meant to predict – gambling, in this case – whereas other superstitions are often applied in same time as the events they are meant to influence, such as throwing. spilled salt on your shoulder.

Tan acknowledged that this is a weakness of the study that can be addressed by further experiments.

“Divination is just a form of superstition,” she said. “It cannot be concluded with certainty whether the results will be repeated for other forms of superstition.”

Vyse added that he’s not so surprised that men are more likely than women to gamble more after being given a fortune telling, as research has shown that men are generally more at risk, and he suspects that a different result might be seen when the final task of such an experiment is something more characteristic of women.

“I think more research needs to be done to find out how powerful or influential this behavior is,” he said. He was also impressed with the approach of using a smartphone app to investigate psychological behavior: “I think it’s clever, a new kind of thing.”

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