Graduation Year


Graduation Month


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Psychology – Research

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Shannon C. Houck

Faculty Mentor Department



luck, persistence, illusion of control, priming

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology | Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Other Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Psychology


Does feeling lucky influence the way we perform? Do we try harder and persist at tasks if we think luck is involved, or are we more prone to give up? To help answer these questions, this research examines the effect of priming the concept of luck on persistence. In particular, some participants completed a word descramble task designed to prime luck; others completed a neutral word descramble task. All participants then completed a set of reasoning puzzles, one of which they were told was ‘difficult’ but in reality was unsolvable. Persistence was measured by (a) the amount of time participants invest trying to solve the reasoning puzzles, and (b) the number of novel attempts participants make to solve the unsolvable puzzle. Contrary to expectations, there were no significant differences between the luck prime and neutral prime conditions on either persistence measure. However, a significant interaction emerged between the type of prime (luck vs. neutral) and participant beliefs about luck on persistence, such that those who were primed with the concept of luck and reported strong beliefs in luck persisted longer compared to those who did not report a strong belief in luck. On the other hand, participants who were not primed with the concept of luck but reported strong beliefs in luck were less persistent compared to those who did not hold strong beliefs in luck. These results provide insight into the pervasiveness of the concept of luck in modern culture and how subtle cues in the environment may affect subsequent performance behaviors such as persistence.

Honors College Research Project




© Copyright 2016 Koryn R. Haight