New study shows superstitions can help reduce performance anxiety
Do you avoid crossing the path of a black cat to avoid bad luck? Or pick up a penny on the street for good luck? Some superstitions we never outgrow, and the surprising news is that for job-hunters, that can be a good thing.
Do you take a particular pen to every interview, or perhaps you make sure to wear a favorite watch or a certain pair of socks? You’re not alone. A lot of us have superstitions, odd irrational beliefs and habits, that we think can help our game. And according to new research, they can.
Athletes will tell you they don’t need to science to confirm that superstitions are important. Michael Jordan didn’t credit talent alone for making him the greatest basketball player ever. He believed he owed a lot to the shorts that he wore when he played for his North Carolina college team. He wore those same shorts under every uniform for every game.
Tiger Woods has said he needs to wear red during the final round of a golf tournament to play well. And Patrick Roy, hailed as the best goalie to ever play in the National Hockey League, had a pre-game ritual that he considered sacred. He would skate out to the blue line, stare at the net and imagine it shrinking.
These little quirks and beliefs go along way to reducing performance anxiety, says Stuart A.Vyse, psychologist and author of Believing in Magic.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to win a game, or win a job, we all feel we could use luck on our side. And small superstitions give us a sense that we are doing something to help things go our way. That belief doesn’t just reduce our anxiety, it may actually improve our performance, according to a new study at the University of Cologne, in Germany.
Research found that people who were told good-luck statements such as “break a leg” or “fingers crossed” or given a ‘lucky’ charm before a test, performed better. Writing about the study in the prestigious journal Psychological Science, researchers concluded, “Activating a superstition boosts participants’ confidence in mastering upcoming tasks, which in turn improves performance.”
So whether you are interviewing for a full-time job, contract work, or part-time placement, if you believe wearing special socks will make you feel more confident, be sure to wear them. After successfully placing hundreds of people over the years, at The Bagg Group we know that it’s important for you to feel good about yourself to make a good impression. And that’s not a superstition, that’s a fact…and here’s another one, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for you.