Are some people born lucky?

Richard Wiseman, author of Quirkology, describes a number of psychological experiements that he has conducted to understand the role and roots of luck in people’s lives.  In each case, people were asked to self-evaluate their level of luck prior to the experiments, allowing Richard to create 2 groups – the self selected “unlucky people” and the self selected “lucky people”.

In your face
In the first experiment subjects were shown into a room and handed a newspaper.  They were shown a couple of photos of faces and asked to look through the newspaper to see whether these people appeared in any of the photos in the newspaper.

Mid-way through the newspaper there was a half-page advertisement with the words “Mention to the Experimenter that you have seen this Advert to receive €100”.  A whole half page. Big letters.

Most of the self selected “unlucky people” failed to see the advert in their focus on the search for the faces.

Pass the parcel
In another experiment, 100 people registered to participate in an experiment to test the 6 degrees of separation theory.  Each was sent a parcel.  Their task – to get the parcel to a specific person in Coventry, but they were only allowed to send the parcel on to somebody that they knew on first name terms.  The average number of degrees of separation for the parcels to reach our friend in Coventry was 4 (of the parcels that made it).

However, about 30 of the 100 people who actually took the time to register did not even send the parcel on once.  Rather strange – you would go to the effort of applying to participate, and then not even sending the parcel on to anybody.  And, yes, these people who didn’t know who they could send the parcel on to had self selected themselves into the “unlucky people” group.

So, are some people born lucky?

Luck, no; but maybe some people are born with better peripheral vision and greater extroversion.

A Recipe for luck: 

  1. Look up and around you once in a while
  2. Get to know a few more people
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