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?

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March
1
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
2
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Resume & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
3
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Grad Salute
2nd Annual UK Work-Life Summer Camps Fair
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Keeping Your Brain Healthy
Successful Networking & Job Search
Guest Lecture
Documentary Screening: "Forgotten Wars, Forgotten Victims"
Bangladeshi Garment Worker Speak Out
A Reading by Nic Brown
CatWatch Party #3
Tue
4
LNFS Presents: The Mighty Ducks
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Art Therapy Table
OUTspoken with J Mase III
CANCELED: Appalachian Forum with Crystal Wilkinson entitled: Birds of Opulence: Black Women, Madness, and Resilience in Appalachia
Wed
5
LNFS Presents: Typeface
LNFS Presents: Space Jam
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Food for Hope
Thu
6
LNFS Presents: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
LNFS Presents: Pokémon: The First Movie
Cultural Coffee Hour
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Japan Today
Fri
7
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Karnival Around The World
Graduate & Professional School Prep:KAPLAN Free Practice Test for MCAT and LSAT
PharmD Open House
Sat
8
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
9
Midterm of 2015 Spring Semester
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
GUEST LECTURE
Appalachian Forum with Rebecca Klenk, Topic: Global Uttarakhand: Development, Neoliberalism and Social Justice in Himalayan India
Ballroom Thieves
Mon
10
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: Staying Positive During A Job Search
Massage on the Go #2
Tue
11
LNFS Presents: Only Lovers Left Alive
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Jin Shin Jyutsu Self-Help Class
Leadership Assessment
#TrendingTopics: Immunization
True Songs
Wed
12
LNFS Presents: Into the Woods
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Free Spring Break Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
LNFS Presents: Waiting for 'Superman'
Thu
13
LNFS Presents: Vertigo
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Free Spring Break Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
LNFS Presents: Trainspotting
Fri
14
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
15
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
16
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Mon
17
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
18
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wed
19
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Thu
20
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Plating Design Demonstration with Dan Wu
Fri
21
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
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
22
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
23
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
"Thrive: The Kentucky Wine Tradition" Documentary Screening
Mon
24
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: A Snapshot of the Central Kentucky Labor Market
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Kentucky Teacher's Network Career Fair
Tue
25
LNFS Presents: Rear Window
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
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Cultural Diversity Festival: Ten Thousand Villages
Virtual Dementia Tour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Barred for Life: A Conversation on Mass Incarceration
Women of the World: Rosario Dawson
Wed
26
LNFS Presents: The Imitation Game
LNFS Presents: Blade Runner
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Student & Employer Mixer
Young Artists Exhibit Reception
Thu
27
LNFS Presents: Psycho
LNFS Presents: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
UK Woman's Club Craft and Bake Sale
Northeast Florida’s Late Archaic Mortuary Mounds: Memory, Community, and Environment.
Fri
28
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
29
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Lion King Trip
The Voice of Lexington Chinese Singing Competetion
Sun
30
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Mon
31
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
A Reading by Jim Gavin
Tue
 
 
 
 
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