Gail Hairston

March: the Season of Good Luck Charms

Published: Mar 11, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 11, 2014) — It’s tournament time in the world of collegiate basketball. For the athletes, coaches and fans of the sport, that means once again pulling on that unwashed-for-four-months T-shirt or making sure that lucky coin nestles in the front left pocket of your jeans or settling into that ancient easy chair gripping a certain brand of beer purchased only in March.

 

Sports superstitions and rituals are nothing new. Suspending belief for the moment, you might envision an ancient ancestor throwing a shiny rock into a rabbit hole and dinner popped out. The connection was made: Shiny rock equals rabbit stew. Now, the shiny rock may miss the next few targets, but inevitably the rock again brings meat to the campfire. By now, our ancient ancestor is convinced he possesses an exceptionally lucky rock, perhaps even a supernatural rock that gives him control of his prey, guaranteeing his family will be fed. Eventually, that rock and its attendant mystical properties are passed from father to son for generations.

 

How ridiculous, we think. A super rock that kills every time? Impossible!

 

Yet, what right do we have to laugh at such prehistoric superstitions when our own repetitive ritualistic behavior is much the same?  That torn and tattered T-shirt shares many mystical, all-powerful characteristics with the caveman’s shiny rock. Both were present at an event with a successful outcome. That first success breeds confidence, focus and — the fan believes — more success.

 

“Generally, people are terrible at thinking about probability, and we are terrible in very specific ways,” said Will Gervais, assistant professor of the University of Kentucky Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences.  “We often see hidden causes behind coincidences in life. As a species, we are in a large part successful because we can infer hidden causes. But we do it too much.”

 

While we sit in our family room or miles away in the coliseum, we have no way of physically helping our favorite team win. The T-shirt nevertheless has an undeniable impact; it makes us feel intimately involved in the action. The fan feels a duty to believe in the power of the superstition.

 

“Once we believe we see a pattern, we're really great at ‘finding’ evidence to support that belief. But we're terrible at finding evidence against the belief,” Gervais said.

 

Psychologists call it confirmation bias, the tendency to avoid rejecting beliefs or a selective collection of evidence — your own personal internal yes man.

 

Athletes are notorious about superstitious rituals, whether it be using a favorite baseball glove, counting the number of bounces at the free throw line, or wearing a pair of lucky pants. If an athlete believes that a specific action will make them or the team perform better, then they might actually perform a little better. The visualization that takes place bouncing the basketball exactly four times at the free throw line, for example, prepares the athlete mentally and physically for success.

 

“Basically,” said Gervais, “we're just not that good at intuitively weighing evidence for and against our cherished beliefs.”

 

But we’re obviously pretty good at convincing ourselves that lucky articles and obsessive ritual actually make a difference. The more belief placed in these things or actions, the more potential impact on performance. It’s all in the turn of our mind, the superstition instilling confidence where there was once doubt or apprehension. And without that reinforcing superstition, their game could well suffer for lack of confidence and control.

 

The fan might not truly believe his unwashed T-shirt, lucky coin or special beer carry the power to succeed. But what could it hurt to wear that T-shirt or carry that lucky coin or to buy that special beer? Just in case, right?

uknow_see_spirit_1.jpg
April
 
 
 
1
LNFS Presents: Inherent Vice
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Successful Networking & Job Search
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
The Arboretum presents a Party for the Planet! Celebrate Kentucky's Past
Mr. PharmD Pageant 2015
Wed
2
LNFS Presents: Manakamana
LNFS Presents: Donnie Darko
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
SEC-ACC Virtual Career Fair
Massage on the Go #3
Thu
3
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Fri
4
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
5
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
6
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Age Friendly Community Panel
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
7
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
8
LNFS Presents: The Godfather
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
UK Remembers
SpeakBlue: Richard Sherman
Wed
9
LNFS Presents: The Shawshank Redemption
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
From Plows to Plates: A Journey Through Kentucky Foodways
Workshop on Publishing
Teached Documentary
Thu
10
LNFS Presents: Enemy
LNFS Presents: Seven Psychopaths
Cultural Coffee Hour
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture: Julian Cox
Fri
11
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
fab-ric-ate Exhibit
Sat
12
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Kentucky's Present - Learn about the Bluegrass region of the Walk Across Kentucky and about invasive plants that threaten Kentucky landscapes
Sun
13
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Get Your DIY On! Fix-It Station Demonstrations
Mon
14
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Job Club - LinkedIn: Your Job Search Best Friend
Tie Dye Tuesday
#UK Kick Butts Day
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Take Back the Night Lexington
Tue
15
LNFS Presents: The Godfather: Part II
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 11 a.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ Noon
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Affrilachian Poets
Bike-In Movie: The Bicycle Thieves
Wed
16
LNFS Presents: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
CANCELED: Bike-In Breakfast
Human Rights in China: a panel discussion
Thu
17
LNFS Presents: North by Northwest
LNFS Presents: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Cultural Coffee Hour
Car-Free Day
Performance Conference
Audience Appeals and Performing Assistance Conference
Holi: The Indian Festival of Colors
Fri
18
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Bully Breed Awareness Walk
Spring Carnival 2015
Taste of Africa
GAYla Drag Show and Silent Auction
Sat
19
 
Sun
20
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Floral Sculpture
Pinterest Party #3
Mon
21
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Student Center "Farewell" Informational Fair
Tour de Downtown Art
Tue
22
LNFS Presents: Birdman
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Ping Pong Ball Drop
Shake the Stress Fest
Wed
23
LNFS Presents: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
LNFS Presents: The Avengers
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Wildcat Wrap-Up
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
Kentucky's Future - Plant a Tree in the Pennyrile region of the Walk Across Kentucky
Thu
24
LNFS Presents: Batman
LNFS Presents: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Cultural Coffee Hour
Art in Bloom Weekend
Fri
25
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Network Publishing: Digital Writing in the Humanities
The Party for the Planet final event in April is Arbor Day at The Arboretum!
Art in Bloom Weekend
Art in Bloom Cocktail Party
Sat
26
Art in Bloom Weekend
Sun
27
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Fuel for Finals
UK Ag Equine Programs Distinguished Lecture Series
Mon
28
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Job Club: How to Write the Perfect Resume and Cover Letter
How to Impress Your Boss: Employer Panel
Tue
29
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Appalachian Research Day
Wed
30
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Thu
 
 

Sat, 04/18/2015

Repeats every week until Thu Apr 30 2015 except Mon Mar 16 2015.
Mon, 04/20/2015

Mon, 04/20/2015

Reset Page