Superstitious Behaviour

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  • Created by: Ross Hill
  • Created on: 21-02-15 18:12

Superstitious Behaviour

Beliefs are not based on reason or knowledge e.g. believing the number 7 is lucky

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Superstitious Behaviour- Explanations

Type 1/Type 2 Errors;

  • Arise from making unjustified casual links
  • Better to assume casuality between unrelated events that co-occur (Type 1) THAN.... miss a genuine one by not believing a casual link when there was one (Type 2)
  • Type 1 is preffered to Type 2

Behaviourist Explanation;

  • Operant conditioning where an accidental S-R bond is learned
  • 1st--> supersition acquired through operant conditioning
  • 2nd--> maintained through negative reinforcement everytime you repeat the supersitions behaviour anxiety is reduced and behaviour reinforced

Illustion of Control;

  • Supersitions develop in situations where people feel a lack of control e.g. sitting in exams, when playing football
  • In order to bring a sense of control, superitious rituals are used to bring good luck
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Evidence- Illusion of Control

Whitson and Galinsky (2000);

  • Participants were asked to recall situations in their lives;
    • 1 group situation was when they were in control
    • 1 group situation was with a lack of control
  • All participants then given stories involving superstitous behaviour and asked to judge how much this affected the eventual outcome (stamping foot 3 times before entering meeting room)
  • Participants who had been made to feel less in control were more likely to believe that the supersitious behaviour was affected by the eventual outcome

Damisch et al (2010);

  • Value of self belief
  • Found that activation of good luck related supersitions led to enhanced performance on a variety of tasks (memory and motor dexerity)
  • Supersition improves one's self efficacy
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Evidence- Behaviourist Explanation Support

Skinner (1947);

  • Food pellets apeared at regular intervals-  bird behaviour had no affect on food delievery
  • Certain random behaviours preceeded food
  • These behaviours then persisted as 'ritualistic behaviour'
  • Random behaviours reinforced by food as the birds believed it caused food
  • The fact that food continued occasionally maintained supersition

Matute (1996);

  • exposed participants to uncontrollable noises being emitted from a computer in a library
  • Participants pressed various buttons to stop noise- when it stops it wasent because of the buttons
  • When the noise started again the participants tried to press the key they had been pressing when it stopped first time ---> assumed cause when there was none
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Evidence- Behaviourist Explanation Criticism

Staddon and Simmelborg (1971);

  • Repeated Skinner's study
  • Observed similar behaviour but unrelated to food- all same way at the start
  • Rituals occured at other times and were unrelated to reinforcement

Schnur (2008);

  • Pigeons behaviour was not the result of accidental or adventitons reinforcement
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Personal Vs Cultural Superisitons

Culturally transmitted supersitions

          e.g. UK= Lucky No.7, Thailand= Lucky No.9

People sometimes adopt supersitions through indirect learning perhaps as a means of gaining a sense of control

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