Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Luckiness, Competition, and Performance on a Psi Task

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Luckiness, Competition, and Performance on a Psi Task

Article excerpt

This paper presents experimental data from an ongoing program of research into the psychology and parapsychology of luck and luckiness (see Smith, Wiseman, Harris, & Joiner, 1996). Part of this research explores the relationship between luck and psi by examining whether "lucky" people (i.e., individuals who report that seemingly chance events consistently tend to work out in their favor) outperform unlucky individuals on a variety of psi tasks.

In the past, researchers have studied this potential luck-psi relationship from many different perspectives. Greene (1960) investigated whether or not perceived luckiness correlated with psi performance. Participants were classified as lucky or unlucky by their responses on the "Greene Luck Questionnaire," which asked participants about whether or not they tended to win at games of chance, and were then asked to psychically influence the throwing of a ten-sided die. Greene found no relationship between luckiness and PK.

Ratte and Greene (1960) embedded a similar task in a game situation in which throws of the dice determined the outcome of different stages in an imaginary basketball game. Using a revised version of the Greene Luck Questionnaire, lucky participants tended to perform above chance while unlucky ones tended to perform below chance. Ratte (1960) went on to compare the performance of lucky and unlucky individuals in four conditions: game versus non-game and competitive versus non-competitive. Ratte reported that participants tended to perform better in the competitive condition than in the non-competitive condition, and the difference between the conditions tended to be due to the lucky rather than unlucky participants.(1)

More recently, Broughton (1979) carried out a pilot study in which he administered the Greene Luck Questionnaire to participants undertaking a computerized micro-PK task and found a significant positive correlation between luckiness and PK scores, although this correlation was nonsignificant in confirmatory data. Gissurarson and Morris (1991) found nonsignificant correlations between micro-PK performance and individuals' scores on either the Greene Luck Questionnaire or more general questions about everyday luck. Most recently, Rebman and Radin (1995) correlated computerized micro-PK performance with responses on a questionnaire concerning various aspects of luck. Nonsignificant negative correlations were found between psi scores and questions about how lucky participants considered themselves. However, significant negative correlations were reported between psi scores, participants' belief in luck, and whether or not they felt that they controlled their luck.

Other studies have examined perceived luckiness and ESP ability. For example, Rammohan and Krishna Rao (1987) administered multiple-choice questions to participants, the answers to which could only be known by ESP. They found no difference in ESP scores between participants who indicated that they tended to be lucky and those that tended to be unlucky in academic examinations. However, in a later study, Rammohan and Lakshmi (1993) found a significant positive correlation between psi scores and self-rated luckiness in exams on a nonintentional ESP test. Wiseman, Harris, and Middleton (1994) have also recently examined the possible relationship between self-reported luckiness and ESP performance. Perceived luckiness was measured by asking participants to rate how lucky they considered they had been in the past and expected to be in the future, in various aspects of their lives (e.g., health, relationships, games of chance, etc.). A significant positive correlation was found between perceived luckiness and ESP performance for participants who believed that the ESP task depended on non-chance factors. Perceived luckiness was not correlated with ESP performance for participants who believed that the outcome of the ESP task depended on chance.

The present study builds upon previous research in several ways. …

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