Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition - Updated Edition

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Oxford University Press, Sep 1, 2013 - Psychology - 264 pages
While we live in a technologically and scientifically advanced age, superstition is as widespread as ever. Not limited to just athletes and actors, superstitious beliefs are common among people of all occupations, educational backgrounds, and income levels. In this fully updated edition of Believing in Magic, renowned superstition expert Stuart Vyse investigates our tendency towards these irrational beliefs. Superstitions, he writes, are the natural result of several psychological processes, including our human sensitivity to coincidence, a penchant for developing rituals to fill time (to battle nerves, impatience, or both), our efforts to cope with uncertainty, the need for control, and more. In a new Introduction, Vyse discusses important developments and the latest research on jinxes, paranormal beliefs, and luck. He also distinguishes superstition from paranormal and religious beliefs and identifies the potential benefits of superstition for believers. He examines the research to demonstrate how we can better understand complex human behavior. Although superstition is a normal part of our culture, Vyse argues that we must provide alternative methods of coping with life's uncertainties by teaching decision analysis, promoting science education, and challenging ourselves to critically evaluate the sources of our beliefs.
 

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Contents

1 Believing in Magic
3
2 The Superstitious Person
31
3 Superstition and Coincidence
73
4 Superstitious Thinking
113
5 Growing Up Superstitious
169
6 Is Superstition Abnormal Irrational or Neither?
205
7 A Magical View of the World
237
Coda
263
Acknowledgments
265
Notes
267
References
289
Index
309
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About the author (2013)

Stuart A. Vyse is Joanne Toor Cummings '50 Professor of Psychology at Connecticut College.

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