FRIDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Nervous about an upcoming presentation at work, or concerned you'll strike out at the company softball game?
Taking along a lucky charm might boost your performance, according to a new study.
So if you have a lucky rabbit's foot or an outfit that's landed you a job or promotion in the past, take advantage.
Having some kind of lucky token appears to increase self-confidence and thus performance, says Lysann Damisch, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Cologne in Germany and leader of the study published in the July issue of Psychological Science.
Damisch came to that conclusion after evaluating the effects of "lucky" golf balls, charms and simple wishes of "good luck" on performance in a series of experiments.
She set out to study the link after noticing that many athletes, even star players, hold superstitions. According to Damisch, Michael Jordan wore his college team shorts under his NBA uniform for good luck, and Tiger Woods dons a red shirt on tournament Sundays, usually the last day of play. Other athletes latch on to lucky charms, too.
In one experiment, Damisch asked participants to bring a lucky charm to the study center. People presented a variety of items, such as wedding rings, special stones and well-loved stuffed animals.
After removing the good luck charms to take a photograph, the researchers returned the charms to half the participants and told the others they would get theirs back later.
The participants then took a computerized memory test, and those who had their lucky charms did better. Other evaluations attributed the difference to greater confidence.
In another experiment, 28 college students practiced putting golf balls. Some were given golf balls deemed "lucky"; others received golf balls with no mention of luck.
Those with the ''lucky'' gol
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