Touching wood is Britain’s most popular superstitious belief, a psychological survey revealed today. Next came crossing fingers, avoiding walking under ladders, not smashing mirrors, carrying a lucky charm, and worrying about the number 13. Women were generally more superstitious than men, and the Scottish appeared to be the most superstitious people in theUK, the findings showed.
Dr Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, carried out the survey as part of National Science Week. He said today: “This is a self-selecting sample, so we need to treat the results with some caution. However, they have given a real insight into the world of superstitions and what people believe. It also appears that the rise in science and technology has not stopped people holding unusual beliefs.”
Current levels of superstitious behaviour in theUK were surprisingly high, he said. The Scots topped the superstition league table, followed by the English, the Welsh and the Northern Irish. Women were more superstitious than men, and young people more superstitious than older generations. Superstitious people tended to worry about life, have a strong need for control, and feel uncomfortable with ambiguity.
A total of 2,068 people took part in the superstition survey by answering questions on a website. Some 77% indicated that they were at least a little superstitious and/orengaged in some form of superstitious behaviour. A total of 42% indicated that they were”very/somewhat” superstitious.
Surprisingly, a quarter of peoplewho said they had a background in science belonged to the latter category. Almost 20% of people revealed that they had felt moresuperstitious over the last month, raising the possibility of a link with the increasingly turbulent economic and political climate.