The myth of regaining control: Ostracism increases superstitious tendencies

Kai Tak POON, Hiu Lam Natalie WONG, Hill-Son LAI, Yufei JIANG

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Whether and how interpersonal experiences predispose people to show superstitious tendencies have been largely unexamined by past studies. By adopting a multimethod approach, three studies tested (a) whether ostracism increases superstitious tendencies through thwarted perceived control, (b) whether the dispositional need for closure moderates the effect of ostracism on superstitious tendencies and (c) whether restoring ostracized people's thwarted control weakens their superstitious tendencies. The results revealed that ostracized participants had higher superstitious tendencies than nonostracized participants did (Studies 1–3). Moreover, thwarted control mediated the effect of ostracism on superstitious tendencies (Study 2). In addition, the dispositional need for closure moderated the effect of ostracism on superstitious tendencies, such that the effect was stronger among participants with a high need for closure (Studies 1–2). Finally, restoring ostracized participants' perceived control weakened the effect of ostracism on superstitious tendencies (Study 3). Altogether, these findings feature the essential role of thwarted perceived control in understanding the link between ostracism and superstitious tendencies and the implication of control restoration in weakening the link. They also highlight the importance of dispositional characteristics in moderating people's responses to superstitions following ostracism and related forms of interpersonal maltreatment. Copyright © 2022 The British Psychological Society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Early online date31 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Oct 2022

Citation

Poon, K.-T., Wong, N. H.-L., Lai, H.-S., & Jiang, Y. (2022). The myth of regaining control: Ostracism increases superstitious tendencies. British Journal of Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/bjop.12606

Keywords

  • Need for closure
  • Ostracism
  • Perceived control
  • Social exclusion
  • Superstitious tendencies

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