How Superstitions May Impact Risky Behavior

Superstitions, particularly in Eastern cultures, often inform decisions, from the mundane to the life-changing. Existing research links a superstitious mindset to 544623640_258eaf528a_ba higher likelihood of engaging in riskier behaviors, such as gambling. A new Social Marketing Quarterly article seeks to explore different styles of superstition and the way in which these styles may impact a tendency towards risk. In their paper “Exploring Different Types of Superstitious Beliefs in Risk-Taking Behaviors: What We Can Learn From Thai Consumers,” authors Sydney Chinchanachokchai, Theeranuch Pusaksrikit, and Siwarit Pongsakornrungsilp examine differences between passive and proactive superstitious consumers. Passive superstition involves a strong belief in fate or destiny; these individuals feel that their luck is beyond their control. Proactive superstitious individuals, however, may practice certain rituals for to attract good luck or ward off evil forces. The researchers summarize:

The impact of superstitious beliefs on decision making and how they affect both business and consumers has been observed for several decades. Chinese consumers are willing to pay premium for something that contains number “8” and Thai consumers will do the same for number “9”. Those numbers are considered good luck and prosperity in the cultures. There are times that consumers make irrational decisions based on superstitious beliefs. Our paper explores different types of superstitious beliefs and how they affect risk-taking behaviors. We chose Thailand as a context because Thai consumers are known for their superstitions. We found that people who are “passive superstitious” (meaning that they believe in fate and generally do not take any superstitious action to control the situation) make riskier decisions when they received superstitious objects (e.g., lucky charms). These people do not usually go out and seek superstitious objects or practice superstitious rituals. As online gambling, online financial investments, and other risk-taking activities become more accessible to consumers, knowing that individuals may be either proactive or passive superstitious, the marketing campaigns for these types of products should be carefully monitored and regulated as some promotional tactics may trigger risky decisions.

So while passive superstitious consumers may be highly influenced by magical objects, proactive superstitious consumers are less likely to modify their behavior based on such an object.

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*Image attributed to Tiago Daniel. (CC)

This entry was posted in Jobs, Marketing, Media, Social Media by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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