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Can superstitions save the real estate industry?

Superstitious behavior

Through research at the University of Cologne and testing of performance based on luck-related superstitions, it has been revealed that work performance is better and faster in those that are superstitious.

According to to The Guardian, the University research performed four tests. “In the first, they took 28 students, over 80% of whom said they believed in good luck, and randomly assigned them to either a superstition-activated or a control condition. Then they put put them on a putting green. To activate a superstition, for half of them, when handing over the ball the experimenter said: “here is your ball. So far it has turned out to be a lucky ball”. For the other half, the experimenter just said “this is the ball everyone has used so far”. Each participant had 10 goes at putting on the green, trying to get a hole-in-one from a distance of 100 cm: and lo, the students playing with a “lucky ball” did significantly better than the others, with a mean score of 6.42, against 4.75 for the others.”

For those of you who are Harry Potter nerds like me, Ron’s quiddich performance while he thought he was under the influence of lucky juice surely comes to mind.

But does this convey to the workplace?

The Guardian continues by noting that “what’s interesting is that superstition works, because it improves confidence, let’s [sic] you set higher goals, and encourages you to work harder. In a lab. You now know everything you need to decide if this applies to your life.”

Although the results are indeed in a lab setting, people believing in luck traditionally leads to a higher margin of performance- a false performance booster if you will. Facebook philosophers post quotes every day about how if you believe in yourself you can be anything or that if you believe you can’t do something, you’re probably right, etc. but the commonality is one of simple psychology- confidence is from within.

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That said, if you have a team and you need a quick performance boost, help them build the confidence they need. It’s not just about a lucky golf ball or a rabbit’s foot, it’s simpler than that- confident employees, agents, and the like perform better if they believe they can.

And here’s the point:

Perhaps the answer for the improvement of the real estate sector is for all NAR members to be given a standard issue lucky trinket that is said to help improve sales. Yeah, that’s the ticket. How do you think superstition can help job performance or the real estate industry as a whole? Is there a superstition or something lucky in YOUR life that you believe helps your performance?

(Yeah, I’m looking at you, Mr. Lucky Mont Blanc guy, you know who you are…)

CC Licensed image courtesy of kaibara87 via

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Michelle DeRepentigny

    June 19, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I have this seriously tacky fake gold house pin – you know the one with the sold sign on it? I am scared to death to go on a listing appointment without it being on me. I have been know to pin it to my shirt under a sweater, eek!

    • Lani Rosales

      June 19, 2010 at 10:41 pm

      OMG that is hilarious! Have you ever gone to an appointment without it??

  2. Michelle DeRepentigny

    June 19, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Yeah, but it didn’t turn out well :). Backstory: My mother gave me that stupid pin in 1997 when I got my license. I wore it fairly often and seemed to get business easier when I had it on, the first listing I competed for and lost, I didn’t have it on. Now panic sets in if I don’t have it on for a listing appointment.

  3. BawldGuy

    June 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    On May 8th, 1993 I created my own luck — I shaved my head. 🙂

  4. Miami Condo Shop

    June 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Try whatever works for you. When my right eye itches, some good luck is near. Even famous personalities have superstitious beliefs. Michael Jordan always played with his college shorts on…superstition is the poesy of practical life.

  5. Jonathan Benya

    June 20, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    The only luck I believe in is the luck I make for myself, IMHO. I pick up more clients than other agents in my office because I’m there earlier in the morning, I stay later, I do weekends, etc. Every moment that I’m the only agent in the office is another chance for me to snag another sale!

  6. Susie Blackmon

    June 21, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Placebo effect thrives and can’t be denied. However, more than ‘lucky’ realtors, we need a much higher percentage of smart, educated, literate, professional realtors…. like the ones who write on Agent Genius.

  7. Geoffrey Boyd

    June 21, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    This reminds me of that 90’s movie “Space Jam” – the one with Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny? They couldn’t win until the end, when they got ahold of MJ’s “Special Stuff” – a bottle of water.

    I think our next president needs to be a leprechaun; consumer confidence would soar! We would probably have to go back to the gold standard though – oh well.

  8. lucky rabbits foot

    July 10, 2010 at 3:54 am

    I have a lucky pen i use to write all my exams in that pen in schools. Even now i have that pen with me. Still it is lucky for me. That type of belief is true in my point of view.

  9. Rosacea

    October 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I keep a stick that I found when a monarch butterfly landed on it and just stared at me for a few minutes. I asked God to show me He even exists (I was doubting He exists) and to send a butterfly as sign (I’d seen no butterflies yet that year) and when the butterfly came and landed and stared at me, it was so amazing. So I keep that little stick in my vehicle. 😉 I don’t usually tell people this because they’d ridicule me.

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