People do believe that good and bad luck can be washed away, says a new research.
Co-author Rami Zwick, a University of California, Riverside marketing professor in the School of Business Administration, working with Alison Jing Xu of the University of Toronto, and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan, designed two experiments that showed risk taking depends on whether participants recalled a past episode of good or bad luck and whether they washed their hands before engaging in a risky decision making task.
In the first experiment 59 business students at a North American university were brought in and it involved recalling an incident in which they had good luck financially and also an incident of bad financial luck. Participants were given antiseptic wipe. Half were told to use the wipe, the other half were told to form and impression of the product without using it.
The researchers found those who recalled an unlucky incident and cleaned their hands and those that recalled a lucky incident and didn't clean their hands were more likely to select the riskier option.
Of those who recalled an unlucky incident and cleaned their hands, 73 percent selected the riskier option, while only 36 percent who recalled an unlucky incident and didn't clean their hands picked the riskier option.
Of those who recalled a lucky incident, 77 percent who didn't clean their hands picked the riskier option, while only 35 percent who cleaned their hands selected the riskier option.
In the second experiment, students and staff from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology were given HK 100 dollars to gamble with.
The experimenters showed participants a pink ball and a green ball and placed them in a bag. Participants selected one of the colors as their "winning" color and blindly picked a ball from the bag. If they picked the winning color they won HK50 dollars.
Researchers found participants who had good luck in the initial round bet more money in the second round than participants who had bad luck.
However, participants who had bad luck in the first round bet more money in the second round if they washed their hands.
The study has been published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.