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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health and Human Development

First Advisor

Keeler, Linda

Second Advisor

Mielke, Michelle

Third Advisor

Russell, Keith C., 1968-


Superstition has been analyzed in prevalence and in performance in the worlds of athletics, academics, and economics (e.g., Bleak & Frederick, 1998; Dudley, 1999; Wright & Erdal, 2008). Superstition has been postulated to be positively associated with external locus of control, high athletic identity, ambiguous intolerance, and high stress situations (Foster, Weigand & Banes, 2006; Todd & Brown, 2003). To date, there has been no research exploring how an individual decides to believe in the power of superstition and how they choose a superstitious behavior (SB). Additionally, no research has been conducted analyzing individual SBs within the military and performing arts communities. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively analyze why and how an individual comes about choosing and relying on a SB in a performance setting. The participants consisted of five athletes, three military members, and three performing artists. Each participant answered questions from an interview guide created by the researcher. The interview focused on three topics: history of SB, perspective around SB, and sustainability of SB. Interviews took approximately 20 minutes and were then transcribed and analyzed for themes. After analysis of the raw data, ten themes were discovered. A model was created, using the discovered themes, depicting how a SB starts, why a SB works, and how a SB works. Future research is needed on the connection between belief in superstition and the behavior as well as the discovered themes; particularly transfer of power, root of power, and ambivalence around SBs.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Superstition--Psychological aspects; Reinforcement (Psychology); Behavioral assessment; Athletes--Psychological aspects; Entertainers--Psychological aspects; Soldiers--Psychological aspects




masters theses




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