ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Men appear to be much more superstitious than women — especially when it comes to money! A new study reveals they are more likely to take financial risks or gamble after receiving a positive reading from a fortune teller.
Three experiments showed the impact of superstition, even among men who claim to be non-believers – revealing that these superstitious beliefs affect males far more than females. Men who received a positive fortune telling, rather than a neutral or negative one, were more inclined to take risks with their money, according to the findings published in the journal PLOS One.
Study leader Dr. Xiaoyue Tan of Erasmus University notes that superstitious beliefs and behaviors are prevalent all around the world. There is now a limited-but-growing body of research into superstition as a human belief.
For example, the researchers say evidence suggests that superstition helps to combat feelings of uncertainty. Moreover, superstitious rituals can boost people’s performance during certain tasks because they enhance our confidence. The team also notes that fortune telling is a popular form of superstition, but there are few studies which have examined how it influences someone’s behavior.
A good reading only has a small impact on women
To better understand that relationship, study authors conducted two online experiments involving 693 participants. Each person received either positive, negative, or neutral fortunes involving their lives and future financial success. The participants later completed a questionnaire that examined their tendency to take risks with their money.
Dr. Tan’s team says the experiments revealed that participants receiving positive fortunes were more likely to take chances with their money. The connection was particularly strong among males.
An additional experiment involving 193 participants in a lab revealed that receiving a positive fortune reading led to a greater tendency to gamble with real money in an online gambling game. However, this study did not find a significant difference between men and women.
The researchers also conducted a statistical analysis of all three experiments, revealing a “significant” link between financial risk-taking and positive fortunes among men. This link was almost non-existent among women.
“Positive fortune telling can yield increased financial risk taking in men, but not (or less so) in women,” study authors write in a media release.
The study authors note that most participants considered themselves to be non-believers, even though the results show that positive news influences behavior — no matter where the news comes from.
South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.