Why Superstitions are Hard to Shake or Correct

by Bidita Debnath on Nov 11 2015 1:07 AM

 Why Superstitions are Hard to Shake or Correct
Do you forward a chain mail even though you know fully well that your action would not bring any promised luck? New research suggests that this is because you might consider the costs of ignoring rationality is low relative to the costs of ignoring intuition.
The researchers found that detecting an irrational thought and correcting that error are two separate processes, not one as most dual-system cognitive models assume.

This insight explains how people can detect irrational thought and choose not to correct it, a process described as "acquiescence" in the study.

"Even when the conditions are all perfect for detecting an error -- when people have the ability and motivation to be rational and when the context draws attention to the error -- the magical intuition may still prevail," said researcher Jane Risen from University of Chicago Booth School of Business in the US.

Understanding how acquiescence unfolds in magical thinking can help provide insight into how it is that people knowingly behave irrationally in many other areas of life, the study said.

Certain variables create situations in which intuition is likely to override rational thought. For example, people may acquiesce if they can rationalize their intuition by thinking that a particular situation is special.

Acquiescence may also be more likely if the costs of ignoring rationality are low relative to the costs of ignoring intuition, the researchers said. The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Review.


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