Superstitions brings some to have rituals, charms

Adrienne Hood, freshmen in physics, shows her Batman watch, which is her personal good luck charm. Hood brought the watch two years ago at Target. Photo: Shing Kai Chan/Iowa State Daily


Adrienne Hood, freshmen in physics, shows her Batman watch, which is her personal good luck charm. Hood brought the watch two years ago at Target. Photo: Shing Kai Chan/Iowa State Daily

Lavanya Singh

How can a horseshoe or a piece of metal be considered lucky?

In simple words, anything could be considered lucky.

Zlatan Krizan, assistant professor of psychology, said people can identify with lucky charms by illusionary correlations.

For instance, a student wears a new shirt to a football game. If the student’s team wins, the student may begin to associate the shirt with winning — two things that, in reality, do not depend on one another.

How can an intellectual person associate two things that have no connection?

Krizan said people can rationalize the irrational.

“Why not wear the shirt to the next game?” Krizan said. “It may or may not help, but it cannot hurt.”

The shirt becomes the lucky charm and the act of wearing it to all football games becomes a ritual.

If the rituals are not performed, people may actually have more anxiety.

For example, if a student forgets a lucky pencil to his or her exam, the individual may be more stressed.

In the end, the student can actually perform worse because worrisome thoughts get in the way of focusing on the exam. Krizan said the failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Adrienne Hood, freshman in physics, said she has to have her lucky charm, a children’s watch with the Batman emblem centered on the face, with her.

“Whenever I wear it, I don’t notice it. When I don’t have it on me, I feel like something is wrong,” Hood said. “All the kids I knew had some superhero they were obsessed with — I always liked Batman, so I purchased this watch.”

Hood also said the watch reminds her of her childhood.

“As a child, I used to live with my grandparents in the woods,” she said. This time was filled with happiness and pleasant memories for Hood.

Like Hood, Victoria Heldt, freshman in pre-business, has lucky charms — an ISU teddy bear and a pair of jeans.

“The teddy was given to me on Valentine’s [Day] by my boyfriend,” Heldt said. “He gave it to me after I decided on Iowa State.”

Heldt said the bear, named “Bostwick” by her boyfriend, is lucky for sentimental reasons. “I sleep with the bear every night,” she said. “It reminds me of my boyfriend.”

The pair of jeans is also related to her boyfriend. Heldt wore them on her first date with her boyfriend. Heldt believes the jeans make her look better and said she feels more confident in them.

While both items are inanimate, they give Heldt a sense of happiness because they remind her of her boyfriend and provide comfort.

Jyoshu Tsushima, senior in political science, finds his luck in a guard for his jukdo.

A jukdo is a bamboo sword used for Kumdo, a Korean sport similar to fencing. The guard essentially protects the wrist.

Tsushima has participated in Kumdo for eight years. He got the idea of buying a guard from a friend two years ago at a tournament. The guard, which is made out of leather, cost Tsushima $20.

While Tsushima doesn’t believe in luck, he thinks he has a lucky charm because it acts as a reminder.

“The guard reminds me that I need to get better and practice harder,” Tsushima said. “We get small things to keep our mentality.”

When a lucky charm or ritual motivates people to perform certain activities, it is a form of reinforcement, Krizan said.

“An individual expects to get lucky when he or she performs a ritual, such as using a charm. If there is no reinforcement, the person can actually become more persistent,” Krizan said. An example is when an action has proved to be lucky sometimes in the past, the person may continue it because they believe it can be lucky again.

“Many times students athletes have rituals,” Krizan said. “Some rituals keep them in a good state of mind. Athletes perform certain rituals, especially if they start winning recently.”

Tsushima placed second in the individual round in his last kumdo tournament in Illinois and said his guard became more of a lucky charm for him recently when he began to improve in his tournaments.

Other good luck charms

— Crickets: In Asia, crickets are seen as good luck.

— Dolphins: These mammals are seen as lucky in cultures such as Egyptian, greek and Roman.

— Falling star: Make a wish on the rare event of witnessing a shooting star.

— Ladybugs: If you find a ladybug on you, it is seen as good luck, but don’t kill it, since it’s perceived as bad luck.

— Seven: The number seven is seen as good luck by U.S. culture and many other cultures. Seven is vital in spiritual beliefs and religions such as Christianity and Buddhism.

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