Many people seem to have a lucky charm, maybe a lucky pair of socks or a piece of jewelry.
New research shows that we are more likely to turn to superstitions or a lucky charm to achieve a performance goal rather than a learning goal, especially when there are high levels of uncertainty.
Performance goals are when people try to be judged as successful by other people.
“For example, if I’m a musician, I want people to applaud after I play. Or if I’m a student, I want to get a good grade,” said lead author Eric Hamerman, Ph.D., of Tulane University.
Performance goals tend to be extrinsically motivated, and are perceived to be susceptible to influence from outside forces.
Learning goals are often judged internally, which means they are less likely to be affected by outside forces, he explained.
“For example, a musician wants to become competent as a guitar player and perceive that he or she has mastered a piece of music,” he said.