Superstition Does Not Enhance Motor Performance and Learning:

Laboratory Experiments


  • Takehiro Iwatsuki The Pennsylvania State University, Altoona College
  • Aaron Andrews
  • Bethany Faith
  • Reza Abdollahipour


positive connotation, golf-putting, throwing, motor skills


The purpose of the present studies was to examine whether providing superstitious instruction has beneficial effects on motor performance. The results of the effectiveness of superstitious instructions have been mixed. Additionally, the two present studies moved one step forward to examine the effects on motor learning, assessed by retention and transfer tests conducted 2 days after practice day. The tasks for Experiment 1 and 2 were throwing and golf-putting, respectively. In Experiment. 1, the superstitious instruction was, “Here is your lucky color ball. Compared with other color balls, these white balls turned out to be luckier and had better throwing accuracy last week". In Experiment. 2, the superstitious instruction was “This type of putter has been used by many professional golfers at some point in their career. This brand of golf ball, Pinnacle, has been used at many professional tournaments.” Results of Experiment 1 and 2 showed no superstitious-instruction effect on both motor performance and learning, resulting in no difference between the superstitious instruction and control groups. Therefore, superstitious instruction may provide little to no impact on motor performance and learning; however, more studies are needed to conclude the effect of superstition on motor skills.


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