after the sleeping comes the waking up.

Are there trends in superstition?

Posted by c. wagner on November 6, 2009

Here’s a bit of interesting research. Apparently, levels of superstition in a culture might be related to economic conditions. As summarized by Richard Wiseman in Quirkology:

When people were suffering an economic downturn, the number of articles on superstition increased. When things were going better, they decreased. The strong relationship between the two factors caused the authors conclude that “just as the Trobriand islanders surrounded their more dangerous deep sea fishing with superstitions, Germans in the 1920s and 1930s became more superstitious during times of economic threat.”

The authors linked their findings to much broader social issues, noting that in times of increased uncertainty people look for a sense of certainty, a need that can cause them to support strong leadership regimes and to believe in such irrational determinants of their fate as superstition and mysticism. [page 104]

This could explain why everything from astrology to New Age medicine to the call to return to conservative Christian values seems to be increasing.

Here’s hoping the economy turns around. Quickly.


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