BY REGAN HENNING
Feeling the smooth cotton of the sweatshirt against her skin, Mackenzie knew it was going to be a good day. Not even bothering to hold the railing when walking up the stairs, she relied fully on the luck coursing through her veins. Intrusive thoughts of tripping, failing tests, or saying the wrong thing were not welcome in her mind today. She had the ultimate form of defense, her lucky sweatshirt.
Lucky charms are not foreign to society today, but are written off as a mere superstition. Out of 21 students here at Truman, 62 percent of them said they don’t have a good luck charm. Some people however do have their own routines or an item they hold on to, believing it’s a source of luck. Despite popular belief, these charms have actually been proven to improve performances.
Many theories exist about why this happens, one that stands out is from psychologist Lysann Damisch from the University of Koln in Germany. She suspected that “superstitious thinking can make someone gain confidence in their ability to excel. This should result in an increase in their expectations and motivation which improves performances,” according to an article in Association for Psychological Science. It appears that the charm itself has nothing to do with it, but the person who owns it is indirectly tricking their brains into acting a certain way.
Now, this doesn’t mean much without any proof so naturally, there’s been studies putting this phenomena to the test. In one experiment, Damisch had people hit golf balls and try to make it in the hole standing four feet away. She told half the people that they had a lucky ball and said nothing to the others. The results showed that the people who had the “lucky balls” did much better than the ones with normal balls. Another study was done where volunteers played a memory game. Half of them had their good luck charms with them and the other half didn’t. Once again, the people with charms excelled and out performed the other volunteers.
If lucky charms can improve performances, why don’t we take advantage of that? If students were to bring their item of choice they feel is lucky, grades might start to see an incline, which in turn could give students that extra boost of confidence that they might really need. Imagine if the majority of students had confidence in their work and started to get determined to do well, that’s a teacher’s dream, even if it’s all because of a silly superstition. This idea could change results when it comes to tests, sports, and any hardships that an average person might face. The power of confidence is a force to be reckoned with.
The lucky charm effect is real, but it exists only in our minds. Since we are able to trick our minds that easily, it’s safe to say that our brains can be gullible. What happens when our brains are manipulated?
False memories are a very real thing that many people experience. It’s a common mistake and part of the reason why eye witness accounts alone aren’t enough to put someone in jail; what they saw can’t be 100 percent trusted because their mind could’ve been playing tricks on them. There are certain trigger words that our brains can get mixed up, so we think something else that’s related to the memory, but details have changed. In a situation like that someone could use one of those words to slowly make everyone forget something completely or alter a memory to make it slightly different. This amount of power could destroy a lot if it could be controlled and used against the majority of the population.
One of the first studies done about false memories was in 1997 when researchers told participants that their parents told them one of their childhood memories. Even though these stories were fabricated, thirty seven percent of the participants could “remember” these made up stories, some even being able to add really specific details about the experience. All of this because someone told them one thing. What if people in powerful positions started doing this to the point where everyone started to remember anything they wanted, resulting in another form of mind control? However, this is very unlikely because people have strong minds and many won’t be that susceptible to suggestions.
Looking at the other side of this, the idea of false memories or false confidence can be used to improve upon many things, especially when it comes to school. What if just simply telling yourself that you remember all the material on a test results in an A? That would be a game changer and make life a little better for everyone so why not try it? Many people might find it hard to just say that to themselves and believe it, having something that gives them those same thoughts that might be more believable are good luck charms. Why shouldn’t every student have a charm they carry that gives them confidence and makes them believe in themselves? Carrying good luck charms, objects, or performing lucky routines can be very beneficial and allow the students to reach their full potential.
Walking out of school incident free for the day, Mackenzie felt just as good and refreshed as when she walked in. Being surrounded by an unpoppable bubble of confidence, she walked through the halls with her head high and worries at home. Legend has it she aced all the tests she had that day.