Feeling Lucky

Luck could be said to form part of the religious continuum (well, just about). It is accordingly defined in Wikipedia as ‘good or bad fortune in life caused by accident or chance, and attributed by some to reasons of faith or superstition, which happens beyond a person’s control’.

In recent years the phenomenon of luck has been most studied in this country by Professor Richard Wiseman, a professional magician turned psychologist who works at the University of Hertfordshire. He is the author of such best-selling books as The Luck Factor: Change Your Luck, and Change Your Life (London: Century, 2002) and The Little Book of Luck (London: Arrow, 2004).

Luck has mainly found its way into surveys of public opinion in terms of questions about belief in specific objects or situations as being inherently lucky or unlucky, usually within the broader context of superstition. For example, some trend data on belief in lucky charms or mascots will be found on the BRIN website at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/figures/documents/luckycharmbelief.xls

Now YouGov has turned its attention to quantifying people’s perceptions of ‘luckiness’, in a poll of 1,975 Britons aged 18 and over interviewed online on 22 and 23 February 2011. The table of results is available at:

http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/YG-Archives-Life-YouGov-Lucky-230211.pdf

34% of respondents considered themselves to be lucky and 21% unlucky, with the biggest single category (43%) thinking they were neither lucky nor unlucky. A mere 2% had no views on the matter, an incredibly low proportion of don’t knows in comparison to most religion-related surveys.

All demographic groups showed a margin of the lucky over the unlucky, but the gap varied in size. It was at its greatest (+28%) among the over-60s and Liberal Democrat voters, and at its narrowest among those aged 40-59 (+4%), northerners (+4%) and Scots (+5%).

Aggregate believers in luckiness or unluckiness were 55%, rising to 62% among the 18-24s, for whom good or bad luck seems almost to be a kind of surrogate faith.

For this reason, the number unwilling to categorize themselves as either lucky or unlucky dipped to 33% among the 18-24s, but for all other groups it fluctuated within a fairly tight range of 39% to 47%.


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One Response to Feeling Lucky

  1. Tomas Rees says:

    There’s a certain selection bias here. Among the over 60s, they only asked those who were still alive. No wonder they reported feeling lucky…

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