Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Absolute and Relative Judgments in Relation to Strength of Belief in Good Luck

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Absolute and Relative Judgments in Relation to Strength of Belief in Good Luck

Article excerpt

In this study I discuss, in psychological terms, the concept of strength of belief in good luck in everyday life. In general, strength of belief in luck is a concept shown in individual differences in personal ability, rather than as a result of chance.

In the field of psychology, the concept of luck was first discussed by Heider (1958) in relation to causal attribution theory. Heider proposed the concept of naïve psychology, according to which individuals search for causative factors for events in terms of ability, effort, and luck.

Although luck is related to the concept of chance, as opposed to ability or effort, and the concepts of luck and chance are often used interchangeably, luck is not always described in the same way as chance in general (e.g., Keren & Wagenaar, 1985; 1987). In terms of general usage of the term luck, Murakami (2004) interpreted in diagrammatic form the lay theory of luck that we use in our daily lives (see Figure 1). In particular, many people perceive and use the idea of luck as a personal ability. Of the respondents in Murakami's (2002) survey, 79.6% answered affirmatively to the statement, "There are individual differences in the strength of luck."

This aspect of the idea of strength of belief in good luck has been discussed not only by Japanese researchers but also by Smith, Wiseman, and Harris (1997) and Darke and Freedman (1997a, 1997b). I explored this personal ability of strength of belief about good luck to clarify the nature of the concept of strength of belief in good luck and how it should be measured.

The Aspect of the Belief in Good Luck Scale

Darke and Freedman created an attitude measure, called the Belief in Good Luck Scale (BIGL), to measure the strength of a person's belief in their good luck. The BIGL Scale includes two concepts: (a) The belief in luck is viewed as necessary rather than causal, whether or not it is treated as a personal ability, and (b) with regard to luck, the level at which people rate themselves, either strong or weak, is treated as a personal ability. The BIGL Scale has been used in several studies (Chiu & Storm, 2010; Day & Maltby, 2003, 2005; Oner-Ozkan, 2003; Watt & Nagtegaal, 2000; Wohl & Enzle, 2003; Young, Chen, & Morris, 2009). However, there are several issues regarding the use of the scale, the main one being the concept that chance and strength of belief in luck are treated as the same factor. As a result, those who have strong belief in luck perceive that there are individual differences in strength of luck, while those who have weak belief in luck perceive that these individual differences do not exist.

To explore this issue, Murakami (2002) measured two aspects of the strength of belief in luck: a) attitudes about individual differences (e.g., "I think that there are individual differences in the strength of belief in luck"), and b) the extent of an individual's strength of belief in luck. The correlation results revealed that the two concepts are independent (r = -.07).

The Concept of Strength of Belief in Luck and its Validity

To explore the concept of strength of belief in luck, its validity, and appropriate ways of measuring it, I discussed three issues related to the weak perception of strength of luck. The first issue is the methodological aspect. Darke and Freedman (1997b) indicated that the weak group was very small, comprising only 4.65% of the total number of respondents. In their previous survey about the BIGL Scale, Darke and Freedman's (1997a) participants responded to the statement, "I consider myself to be a lucky person." These researchers insisted on making the BIGL Scale a one-factor structure, because this item was not loaded and this particular BIGL item resulted in a low correlation (r = .05). Furthermore, a high percentage of the weak group agreed with the item. However, given that the weak group was considered a small part of the sample in the overall survey, a ceiling effect may have occurred. …

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