Why Calling Attention to Success Seems to Invite Failure

Justin Kruger, New York University, USA
Jane Risen, University of Chicago, USA
Thomas Gilovich, Cornell University, USA
Ken Savitsky, Williams College, USA
Commenting on a streak of success is commonly believed to invite failure. This research document this superstition by showing that participants are more likely to predict negative outcomes for others (Study 1) and for themselves (Study 2) when a string of success is mentioned than when it is not. Study 3 shows that the superstition results (at least in part) from a failure to appreciate regression to the mean. By definition, people comment on a string of successes when things are going unusually well—precisely when circumstances tend (on average) take a turn for the worse.
[ to cite ]:
Justin Kruger, Jane Risen, Thomas Gilovich, and Ken Savitsky (2009) ,"Why Calling Attention to Success Seems to Invite Failure", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 31-35.