A Quantitative Examination of Half-Belief in Superstition

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We examined the phenomenon of half-belief in superstitions by asking two samples of participants (total N = 1,014) to report how much they practiced positive and negative superstitions and how much they believed in these superstitions. We further assessed whether demographic and psychological variables accounted for practice and belief. The results suggest that very few people show a complete lack of belief in superstitions and practice none. Some participants are calibrated believers, that is, people who practice and believe to the same extent. All others are either half-believers, who practice more than they believe or passive-believers who practice less than they believe. Age, gender, and religiosity correlated with practicing, believing, and with the discrepancy between them (i.e., with half-belief or with passivebelief). Anxiety and uncertainty are associated with practicing, believing, and the discrepancy between them, with some effects being weaker for positive than for negative superstitions. Some correlations were stronger in stressful situations (i.e., COVID-19) than prior to the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-31
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Individual Differences
Issue number1
StateE-pub ahead of print - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Hogrefe Publishing.


  • half-belief
  • individual differences
  • stress
  • superstition


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