Do Superstitious Rituals Work; Or Just Illusions?

Essay by nor_shugCollege, Undergraduate December 2003

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Many people feel strongly that superstitious rituals do work. These people usually have

some ritual or tradition that they believe helps them achieve or win something. For example:

when someone uses the same color pen every time to take a test, because they have taken a test

before and passed with that color pen. These rituals continue because sometimes, by coincidence,

the outcome is good or the same. B.F. Skinner (1948) demonstrated this by using eight pigeons

in his laboratory. He found that partial reinforcement got the best response because it persisted

after it had been learned. This is an intermittent schedule of reinforcement. He also found that

continuous reinforcement just taught the subject to use same response to receive reinforcement

or reward.

Skinner also annoyed and infuriated people because he believed that free will is an

illusion and that we are shaped by our environments and genetic heritage.

I feel that

superstitious rituals are illusions, because people tend to have certain beliefs and superstitions or

see things a certain way because of their environment and family or genetics. We believe so

strongly about our own beliefs that we do not feel that they are superstitions or illusions.

Superstitions and illusions are beliefs that can not be proven. Many things in our life such as our

religious beliefs can not be proven as a fact, but we still believe in them.