Illusory Correlation- Superstitions

Illusory Correlation- Superstitions

Katie Kirkman

Illusory Correlation is the perception of a relationship between two variables when only a minor or absolutely no relationship actually exists. People tend to assume that because two events have occurred together at one point on the past, that the one event must be the cause of the other even though they might not even relate. For an example, stereotypes and prejudice. People also tend to believe that certain groups of people occur together and overestimate the strength between those two variables.

Another example of illusory correlation is superstitions. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, superstition is the belief or way of behaving that is based on the fear of the unknown and faith in magic or luck and it is a belief that certain events or things will bring good or bad luck. Many people have superstitions when it comes to sporting events, test grades, etc.

As an athlete growing up, I always had superstitions when it came to winning games and playing well. But when it comes to games it is the result of how hard a team practices and how hard the coaches work them, and not the result of a superstition. For an example, I played soccer since I was about 8 years old and I always thought that if I wore a certain pair of socks to the game that the team would play well. Although this superstition I believed in so much as a player didn’t always work, I continued to do it until I stopped playing soccer.

Of course, deep down I knew that the socks had nothing to do with winning or how I played, but I was afraid if I didn’t wear the socks I would play terribly and the team would lose. I didn’t want to risk that even if I knew that this superstition was ridiculous. Although many athletes tend to have superstitions about their sporting events, their success is the result of their hard work and not their superstition.

“Merriam Webster Dictionary.” Merriam Webster. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2014. Web. 25 Jan. 2014. <>.

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