Washing Away Your (Good Or Bad) Luck: Superstition, Embodiment, and Gambling Behavior

Alison Jing Xu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Rami Zwick, University of California at Riverside, USA
Norbert Schwarz, University of Michigan, USA
Observations of superstitious behavior suggest that gamblers and athletes change their physical appearance after a streak of bad luck, but avoid doing so after a streak of good luck. We test the metaphorical link between changes in physical status and changes in luck in a gambling situation, using hand washing as a manipulation of physical status. Participants who encountered a winning streak bet less in a subsequent round after having than after not having washed their hands. Conversely, participants who encountered a losing streak bet more in a subsequent round after having than after not having washed their hands. Like other superstitious behaviors, these effects are limited to participants who see luck as fickle.
[ to cite ]:
Alison Jing Xu, Rami Zwick, and Norbert Schwarz (2010) ,"Washing Away Your (Good Or Bad) Luck: Superstition, Embodiment, and Gambling Behavior", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 935-935 .