The bird pardoner said, "The freed bird says a prayer on behalf of the one who has bought its freedom. He explained that he rode through town with the cage full of birds and people paid him to release one or more of them, the act of compassion gaining the customer forgiveness for some sins."
- from The Blind Man's Garden, Nadeem Aslam
Some individuals believe that superstitious behaviors may keep away the perceptions of negative outcomes. People knock on wood, throw salt, use phrases or rituals to avoid bad luck.
According to the Journal of Experimental Psychology, scientists from the University of Chicago conducted experiments looking at behaviors that undo bad luck. They recorded how these actions affect individuals' perceptions of their luck.
First, the participants tempted fate by creating phrases with outcomes. They stated and filled in the blank, “no one I know will ever . . .” Participants knocked on wood because they believed the action would prevent that statement from coming true. Some threw or held onto a ball which did not have superstitious connotations for avoiding back luck.
The researchers discovered a pattern in the behaviors that people believed could undo a jinx. Actions such as knocking on wood or throwing a ball away from themselves helped volunteers to believe that they had avoided bad luck to come.
Those who knocked on themselves or held onto a ball were less likely to think that the jinx had been successfully avoided.
“Our results suggest that the effectiveness results, at least in part, to the avoidant nature of the act and its impact on mental simulation,” the authors concluded.
While every culture has rituals for getting rid of misfortune, the study’s authors feel that most involve physically moving something away from the body.
Write about rituals that assist you.