My grandmother was very superstitious. I'm not sure where or why she developed her wide knowledge of every "bad luck omen" in the world...but, she knew them all. In honor of her--and our upcoming Halloween holiday, I wanted to share some research data from Queendom.com which reveals that superstitious are still alive and well, even in the 21st century....and sheds some light on the believers and offers up some rather surprising statistics. While we would expect the uneducated, unworldly to be "superstitious"....this study may surprise you. You will also find my current take on each superstition...and my girls' thoughts as well!
In a world of self-sanitizing door handles and wristwatches that allow people to play music, answer calls, and track their heart rate simultaneously, it’s hard to believe that people still believe in old wives’ tales. Yet research from Queendom reveals that superstitions, like broken mirrors and ancient Egyptian curses, not only strike fear in people’s hearts, they also continue to impact their behavior and decisions.
Analyzing data from 14,958 people who took their Paranormal Beliefs Test , researchers at Queendom uncovered interesting gender, age, and ethnic differences. Here are the top ten superstitions that people believe in (to at least some degree):
# 10 Stepping on cracks: One in four people surveyed believe the old nursery rhyme that stepping on a crack in the sidewalk could result in an injury to themselves or to their mother.
· Ethnicity differences: Among the seven ethnic groups surveyed, this superstitious belief was strongest among Jewish people at 39%, and lowest among Blacks at 17%.
· Gender differences: 25% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 20% of men.
· Age differences: This belief was highest among younger generations at 25% but then decreased after the age of 40 to 19%.
My thoughts? I avoid cracks....and I'm sure that the old rhyme resonates and causes me to avoid them. My grandma wasn't so concerned about this rhyme or belief. The kids laugh...and step on every crack they see just to prove a point....or to see what happens if they really do break my back.
#9 Black cats: One in four people believe that it is bad luck for a black cat to cross their path.
· Ethnicity differences: This superstitious belief was strongest among Asians at 34%, and lowest among Caucasians at 25%.
· Gender differences: 30% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 21% of men.
· Age differences: Belief in this superstition was highest among younger age groups at 30% and then decreased with age to 21%.
My thoughts? I love any and all cats--but, if I see a black cat alongside the road...my heart stops. My car also stops. I will stop walking as well. I will actually turn around and go around the block to avoid letting that little feline bring me bad luck. The kids think I'm crazy.
#8 Number 13: One in four people surveyed believe that number 13 is bad luck.
· Ethnicity differences: This superstitious belief was strongest among Asians at 33%, and lowest among Blacks and Caucasians at 26%.
· Gender differences: 31% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 21% of men.
· Age differences: This belief decreases with age from 33% for people under 18 to 25% for those who are over 40.
My thoughts? I avoid the Number 13. I expect bad things to happen on the 13th of any month (and look out if it is a Friday!). The kids think I'm crazy. My oldest daughter; however, chose Number 13 as her soccer uniform number every season. The other kids seem to worry about Friday the 13th. Otherwise--they all want to buck the "odds" and test "luck" with 13.
#7 Opening an umbrella inside: One in four people refuse to open an umbrella indoors because they believe it is bad luck.
· Ethnicity differences: This superstitious belief was strongest among Native Americans at 37%, and lowest among Asians at 23%.
· Gender differences: 34% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 17% of men.
· Age differences: This belief decreases with age from 31% for people under 18 to 26% for those who are over 40.
My thoughts? I don't even let the kids hold an umbrella until we are outside the house...just in case they accidentally open the thing! Why risk it when it can be avoided? I don't really give the kids a choice on this one--but, if they do OPEN one in the house...they have to close it because I won't be associated with the umbrella.
#6 Spilled salt: If they spill salt, every fourth person throws a pinch of it over the left shoulder to counter the evil associated with this superstition.
· Ethnicity differences: This belief was strongest among Native Americans at 43%, and lowest among Asians at 21%.
· Gender differences: 35% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 19% of men.
· Age differences: Belief in this superstition ranges from 28% to 32% among age groups, but decreased slightly with age.
My thoughts? I remember my grandma tossing salt often over the years. I don't remember a 4th person designation. I have spilled salt three times in my life...yes. I .counted. and I always tossed a pinch over my left shoulder. Again...the kids think I'm crazy--but, they actually kind of like making a mess so they are more than willing to throw a little salt if there is an incident.
#5 Broken mirror: Breaking a mirror is still considered bad luck for a third of people surveyed.
· Ethnicity differences: Belief in this superstition was strongest among Jewish people and Native Americans at 36%, and lowest among Middle Easterners at 25%.
· Gender differences: 38% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 20% of men.
· Age differences: Belief in this superstition decreases with age from 35% (under 18) to 27% (over 40).
My thoughts? I've never broken a mirror. This was one of my grandmother's greatest fears; however, so mirrors were never handheld...always stored securely...and we just didn't risk it. Since it's never happened in our home...they kids may not even know that this superstition exists. They will. I will tell them. Especially when my youngest breaks one...because if it happens...it will happen to her.
#4 Egyptian tombs: Nearly half of the people surveyed believe that a curse awaits anyone who disturbs an ancient Egyptian tomb.
· Ethnicity differences: Belief in this superstition was strongest among Middle Easterners at 55%, and lowest among Blacks at 45%.
· Gender differences: 53% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 38% of men.
· Age differences: Belief in this superstition decreases with age from 51% (under 18) to 44% (over 40).
My thoughts? Egyptian tombs weren't really on my grandma's risk list--but, there is no way I would ever touch anything inside one. I would love to visit--but, I would even hesitate to pose for a selfie with an artifact. Really. My girls grew up with a very science based education....and curses and old wives tales aren't discussed as often "in the city" as they are in rural schools. Imagine that. This one; however, will come up in world history studies at some point--so I will be interested in hearing their thoughts in upcoming years.
#3 Number 7: Unlike the negativity surrounding number 13, more than half of the people believe that 7 is a very auspicious number.
· Ethnicity differences: Belief in this superstition was strongest among Native Americans at 62%, and lowest among Middle Easterners at 51%.
· Gender differences: 58% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 46% of men.
· Age differences: Belief in this superstition varied with age. It was highest among the youngest and older age groups at 56% and 55% respectively, and lowest among 18 to 24 year olds (51%).
My thoughts? This one perplexes me a bit. My grandmother was of Native American descent--and I think that may be where so many of her superstitions and beliefs arose--but, she was all for the "lucky number 7". 7's are good...13's are bad...
#2 Jinxes: In order to avoid “jinxing” themselves, every second person surveyed refuses to tempt fate by discussing a future event or outcome before it happens.
· Ethnicity differences: Belief in this superstition was strongest among Native Americans at 61%, and lowest among Asians at 54%.
· Gender differences: 61% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 44% of men.
· Age differences: Belief in this superstition varied with age, but was highest among 25 to 29 year olds at 59% and lowest among people 40 and older (49%).
My thoughts? I didn't grow up with this superstition--but, I did develop it a bit over life. If I don't get my hopes up; I won't be disappointed.... My kids; however, see this as ridiculous. You work for what you want and if you don't get it...you didn't work hard enough. You can't control some of the variables (that science education kicks in)--but, you can work harder next time and try to cancel out the negative factors.
#1 Negativity: More than just a passing “new age” fad, more than half of the people surveyed believe that thinking negative thoughts can cause bad things to happen.
· Ethnicity differences: Belief in this superstition was strongest among Native Americans at 67%, and lowest among Caucasians at 55%.
· Gender differences: 62% of women believe in this superstition, compared to 49% of men.
· Age differences: Belief in this superstition once again varied with age, but was highest among 25 to 29 year olds at 61% and lowest among people 40 and older (54%).
My thoughts? This one is less superstition and old wives tale oriented than the rest. My grandmother was extremely superstitious....and; thus, extremely negative and suspicious. I agree that if you expect something bad to happen....you often receive "less than perfect results"....but, that's not an all or nothing. I am a huge proponent of positive thinking--and when science, reality, facts, and experience align with my happy thoughts--things work out "positively". My kids are pretty positive, realistic, analytical creatures. They prefer to do their best and assume that things will work out well.
“The degree to which a person believes in superstitions is impacted by a number of factors,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests, Queendom’s parent company. “For example, as we’ve already seen, women and younger age groups are more likely to abide by or show reverence to superstitions. Our research also reveals that superstitions are inversely correlated with socio-economic status and academic performance.”
“One particularly interesting pattern we discovered relates to education level. While superstitious belief steadily decreased as people attained higher levels of education, we noticed a slight but noticeable increase among those who have a PhD. Essentially, for six of the top ten superstitions (black cats, number 13, opening umbrellas indoors, spilling salt, breaking a mirror, ancient Egyptian curses), belief in them was actually higher among Ph.D. holders than those with a Master’s or a Bachelor’s degree.”
“Although belief in the paranormal and superstitions in particular was much more prevalent in previous centuries, it’s clear from our study that some old habits - or in this case, old wives’ tales - don’t die all that easily.”
Want to assess your paranormal beliefs? Go to http://www.queendom.com/tests/take_test.php?idRegTest=710
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I was not compensated for this post. The subject simply interested me and I hope it interests you too!