Jane Risen, associate professor of behavioral science at Chicago Booth, said that their findings suggest that not all actions to undo a jinx are equally effective.
She said that instead, they find that avoidant actions that exert force away from one's representation of self are especially effective for reducing the anticipated negative consequences following a jinx.
Risen asserted that engaging in an avoidant action seems to create the sense that the bad luck is being pushed away.
In five separate experiments, researchers had participants either tempt fate or not and then engage in an action that was either avoidant or not. The avoidant actions included those that were superstitious - like knocking on wood - or non-superstitious - like throwing a ball.
They found that those who knocked down (away from themselves) or threw a ball believed that a jinxed negative outcome was less likely than participants who knocked up (toward themselves) or held a ball.
In addition, the researchers found that engaging in an avoidant action had its effect by leading people to have a less vivid mental image of the negative event.
The study has been published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
--ANI (Posted on 02-10-2013)