Superstition

The British continue to be a pretty superstitious bunch, according to research published by 72point (the news, public relations and survey specialists) on 16 September.

No fewer than 14 million adults admit to regularly carrying out everyday tasks they believe will bring them luck – or ward off bad luck.

But we apparently do not take these superstitions too seriously, since six in ten freely concede we know they are unlikely to come to anything but carry them out ‘just in case’.

The top ten superstitions are listed in 72point’s press release as:

1.    Won’t walk under a ladder
2.    Salute a lone magpie
3.    Throw spilt salt over your left shoulder
4.    Put money in a purse or wallet
5.    Don’t step on cracks in the pavement
6.    Avoid crossing people on the stairs
7.    Won’t put an umbrella up in the house
8.    Won’t walk across three drains
9.    Won’t put shoes on the table
10.  Say ‘pinch punch first day of the month’ on the first day of the month

However, it becomes evident from the text of the press release that, confusingly, these are not listed in strict descending order of statistical frequency.

The most widely-practised superstitions appear to be that almost half the population avoid walking under ladders, regularly touch wood or expect to receive seven years bad luck if they break a mirror.

The survey involved 3,000 adults interviewed online. It was commissioned by Racing for Change, to mark the launch of their www.lovetheraces.com website.

72point’s press release, which does not contain full statistics, can be read either at:

http://www.72point.com/press-archive/Brits-are-suspicious

or at:

http://swns.com/top-ten-superstitions-revealed-151108.html

BRIN will follow up this survey in due course to see whether we can obtain more details about methodology and results.

Only a limited amount of historical information about superstition is available for comparative purposes. Some of what there is assembled at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/figures/#ChangingBelief


British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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One Response to Superstition

  1. Tom Rees says:

    I don’t walk under ladders – for fear of having something drop on my head. I also don’t put shoes on the table – it seems unhygienic. Putting money in a purse or wallet just sounds like common sense!

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