Perceptions of one's own luck : the formation, maintenance and consequences of percieved luckiness.
This thesis reports a body of work that examines psychological, and
parapsychological, factors associated with perceptions of luck and of being lucky.
Although much psychological research has referred to luck, surprisingly little work has
made a detailed examination of people's beliefs about luck and luckiness.
A data base of 126 members of the public who perceived themselves as
especially lucky or unlucky was compiled. Qualitative data based upon interviews with
a sub-sample of this group (i) highlighted the different ways in which people might
describe themselves as lucky or unlucky, (ii) identified contrasting beliefs about luck
among the sample and, (iii) suggested several potential psychological mechanisms
related to perceived luckiness.
Postal questionnaire studies conducted primarily with members of this data base
examined these potential psychological mechanisms in a quantitative way. Participants
were classified as perceiving themselves as lucky or unlucky using a specially
constructed Perceived Luckiness Questionnaire. 'Lucky' and 'unlucky' participants
were then compared on a number of measures of attitudes and personality traits, and
various psychological tasks.
It was found that lucky participants scored higher than unlucky participants on
measures of optimism and self-esteem whilst unlucky participants scored higher on
measures of depression, anxiety, anger and fatigue. In addition, unlucky participants
performed significantly worse than lucky participants on a probability judgements task.
Partial evidence was also found to suggest a bias in memory for lucky events over
unlucky events among lucky participants. However, subjective interpretation of events
was not found to be an important factor in perceived luckiness. The relationship
between perceived luckiness and expectations of success, actual success, and playing
behaviour in the UK National Lottery were also examined. Perceived luckiness was
found to be related to expectations of success but not to playing behaviour nor actual
These findings are drawn together and their implications discussed, along with
methodological and conceptual considerations, with a view to developing a psychology