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Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition Paperback – May 18, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Wade Boggs is one of the best hitters baseball has ever known; at the plate he's a master technician. He also believes that eating chicken gives him good luck, so he's eaten chicken every day for years. Starting with the superstitions of ballplayers, Stuart Vyse, a psychology professor at Connecticut College, embarks on a fascinating exploration of superstitious thoughts in Believing In Magic. Employing scientific techniques and utilizing hard facts, Vyse shows how silly superstition really is. Yet he also admits that some people do perform better when they follow their superstitious rituals. This is a highly informative book, dealing with everything from chain letters to lucky charms to lottery systems. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Believing in Magic is an engaging introduction to psychology focused on a topic, superstition, of inherent interest to us all."--Valerie M. Chase, The Boston Book Review



"Believing in Magic is an engaging introduction to psychology focused on a topic, superstition, of inherent interest to us all."--Valerie M. Chase, The Boston Book Review



"Believing in Magic is an engaging introduction to psychology focused on a topic, superstition, of inherent interest to us all."--Valerie M. Chase, The Boston Book Review


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised ed. edition (May 18, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195136349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195136340
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.3 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,528,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've found that my best days have been the ones on which I brushed my teeth. Then again my worst days have occurred after brushing my teeth. Why do I only remember the positive connections? Author Vyse has written an interesting treatise on superstitious people: their types, upbringing, and thinking.
Certain social and occupational groups tend to be particularly superstitious: athletes, sailors, soldiers, gamblers, miners, financial investors, and, surprisingly (to me), college students. Many students dress up or dress down for an exam; bring lucky pens; sit in a certain place; indulge in bizarre rituals like entering the exam room through a window, or not coming to the exam until finding a penny on the ground outside.
Although the author explores much research seeking the answer to the question of who is most likely to be superstitious, many of the results are not highly significant. One reason for the development of superstition is to give a person a feeling of control in situations where events are often beyond control. This is especially associated with depressed or highly anxious individuals, and those who are deficient in critical thinking.
Included is a very important chapter on coincidence, probability, and contiguity. Was an event a coincidence, a supernatural happening or simple proof of the laws of probability? If two events happen in immediate succession was this a coincidence or a case of cause and effect? The author, in conclusion, deplores the fact that critical thinking is not taught in schools. As a result skeptics (like myself) are derided while non-rational beliefs such as New Age thinking are often considered to be the in thing.
The beauty of this book is that it can be informative to those with psychology backgrounds, and to the general reader. It's easy reading, entertaining, and sure to increase your knowledge of superstitious behavior. Highly recommended reading.
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Format: Hardcover
With out a doubt, one of the best books on the topic of beliefs. Mr. Vyse goes through superstition and how psychologically it makes sense in many of the instances. He goes in to the risk/sacrifice factor and applies it well here. From superstition to religion, from habits to rituals, from black cats to Wade Boggs and his chicken ritual.
From research with kids to research with College students, Mr. Vyse makes this a fun read. You do not need to be a Behavior Psychologist to understand this book. As a matter of fact, this was written for the rest of us. It's a fast read, and goes in to so many (relative) areas that you are lost within his book and before you know it at the end of it.
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By A Customer on December 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A great book for everyone on this topic. It covers many aspects of superstition. It's well organized and easy to read. Although the Coda is author's personal feeling, it explains how a non-superstitious person think and feel very well.
More technical detail in psychological aspects can be found in "The Psychology of Judgement and Decision Making" by Scott Plous. A combination reading of these two books will give you a complete and deep understanding.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A phenomenal view on superstition. I recommend this book and The Science of Superstition by Bruce Hood!
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By Patrick on December 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A rationalist must be intellectually "on guard" against both bunk and would-be de-bunkers. This should have been a much better book. * The author includes as evidence of superstition the well-known sports rituals such as bouncing the basketball a set number of times in a set pattern at the free throw line. He includes data on such practices in reporting the prevalence of superstition in sports, early and throughout the book. After 90 pages, he allows that "these personal rituals serve a number of valuable purposes and are not at all superstitions", citing the advantages of focus, the ritual becoming part of the context of the performance, the feedback, the value of visualization, etc. "Psychological research supports the importance of this strategy, and coaches often encourage athletes to develop a standard routine." But earlier, on page 28, he lists 14 actions labeled "Superstitions" that include "Standing in identical spot for free throw", an absolutely absurd labeling as superstition of something that is obvious common sense! (By my evaluation, 9 of the 14 "superstitions" unequivocally make good sense as psychological "anchors" or better.) * On page 90, he addresses what should have been addressed much earlier: "So when are they [routines] superstitious? A routine becomes superstitious when a particular action is given special, magical significance." He acknowledges "...it is often difficult to draw the line between superstition and useful preparation..." Yes indeed, as any sports psychologist would tell you, and why bother?Read more ›
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