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Grab that lucky charm. February 20, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Katniss Everdeen was right. Fans of “The Hunger Games” may recall how Katniss held on to her lucky charm, a mockingjay pin, to help her get through the gladiatorial bloodbath she was forced to fight in. Well, brain science is backing her up.

Turns out, the secret to optimal brain function under stressful conditions—such as combat or, say, work deadlines—is a feeling of being in control. And the feeling is apparently as good as actually being in control of your circumstances, as far as your brain is concerned.

“Even a good luck charm can help—because good luck charms really do work,” says Eric Barker in “”The samurai secret to always being at your best.” He continues: “Good luck charms provide a feeling of control, and that feeling of control actually helps people perform better with them.”

He quotes The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver:

“…people with a lucky charm performed significantly better than did the people who had none. That’s right, having a lucky charm will make you a better golfer…and improve your cognitive performance on tasks such as memory games.”

So go ahead and grab that four-leaf clover or evil eye deflector or piece of eight or even a mockingjay pin. Even if you’re not heading for the Hunger Games arena, it might get you through your next performance review.



1. Becca - February 21, 2014

Very interesting! Same idea with blankies for kids and Dumbo’s magical feather. Seems like a person would need a strong emotional attachment with the object for there to be any effect though, right?

Hmmm. I had a blanket (the “Caroline button”), a passifier, and a large stuffed lion that I carried everywhere ’til age four (I was thrown out of kindergarten at age three for refusing to give them up), but I would have said they were all about comfort and security, not control. But you’re absolutely right about the strong emotional attachment to the talisman/good luck charm; if you didn’t believe in it, why would it work, even on a mental basis?

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