Mental Health, Research Findings

Are you feeling lucky?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Everyone’s heard the phrase “the luck of the Irish” but it turns out that you don’t need to be Irish nor do you need to find a four leaf clover in order to experience the benefits of good luck, all you have to do is believe that luck is one of your stable intrinsic personal attributes.

A belief in luck was originally thought by psychologists to be an irrational and maladaptive belief with negative consequences for health. For example, if you believe that you’re lucky you may engage in risky behaviors like smoking or indoor tanning because you don’t think you’ll suffer harmful consequences like cancer.

However, psychologists now believe that a belief in luck might actually be a positive attribute which could lead to greater feelings of confidence, control, and optimism. In addition to allowing people to be more open and optimistic about new experiences and opportunities, people who believe in luck have also been shown to be less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than those who do not believe in luck.

Also, when negative events outside of their control occur, those who believe in luck may be better able to cope with these experiences due to their increased ability to remain optimistic and persevere.

So, are you feeling lucky?

  • jenfitter

    Interesting. I've definitely known people who probably thought/think of themselves as "lucky", but I had always associated such personalities as those who are grounded and continuously optimistic, which I felt like often comes with life experiences in seeing the "bigger picture" and not focusing so much on the little things. In public health, I've definitely associated luck with negative behaviors, like tanning and smoking, as you mention. However, it's encouraging to know that it can also be viewed positively, but I guess I had always chalked up traits like confidence, control, and optimism as things you learn along the way (some sooner than others), and not in terms of luck. Thanks for sharing!