Belief in luck

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There are two senses in which the term "luck" is used, the prescriptive, and the descriptive. Luck, in the descriptive sense, is merely a name we use in describing fortunate events after they have already happened. However, luck in the prescriptive sense is what is meant when one says they either have, or don't have, a belief in luck.

History of luck constructs and their measurement[edit]

Belief in Good Luck.[edit]

Darke and Freedman (1997)[1] were the first researchers systematically to address directly both the concept and the measurement of belief in luck as a deterministic and personal attribute. They define luck belief as the perception that good luck is ‘a somewhat stable characteristic that consistently favors some people but not others’.[1] They define disbelief in luck as ‘a tendency to agree with the rational view of luck as random and unreliable’ (p. 490). To capture their unidimensional definition of irrational luck belief, Darke and Freedman developed a 12-item measure.[1] Unfortunately, they found their measure ‘does not seem particularly good at distinguishing between people who [say] they [are] typically lucky from those who [say] they [are] typically unlucky’.[1] They also found factor analyses of their measure produced a multi-component solution,[1] as did Prendergast and Thompson (2008).[2]

Multidimensional beliefs about luck.[edit]

André (2006)[3] proposed a model of luck-related perceptions that includes separate positive and negative beliefs. However, she found the positive and negative components of personal luck beliefs correlate highly, suggesting they are conceptually very close or in fact the same. Maltby et al. (2008)[4] proposed a 6-dimensional model of beliefs around luck, but empirical analyses supported only a 4-dimensional model: belief in being personally lucky; belief in being personally unlucky; general belief in luck; and rejection of belief in luck.

Belief in luck and luckiness[edit]

Thompson and Prendergast (2013)[5] clarified the concepts of belief in luck and belief in personal luckiness. They addressed the logical problem that nobody who disbelieves in luck could consider themselves lucky by differentiating between belief in luck as a deterministic phenomenon that affects the future, on one hand, and on the other, belief in personal luckiness as an appraisal of how fortunately or otherwise chance events in the past might have turned out. They developed and validated an internationally applicable scale to measure, respectively, belief in luck and personal luckiness constructs. They found no correlation between the constructs and no evidence of a distinction between positive and negative aspects of each, suggesting they represent two discrete and unidimensional constructs. Belief in luck and personal luckiness were also found to correlate differently with personality and psychological variables, such as the Big Five and affect.

Belief in Luck and Luckiness Scale[edit]

Question: To what extent do you personally agree or disagree with the following statements?


I believe in good and bad luck (a)

[I try hard to be nice] (b)

I mostly have bad luck (c*)

There is no such thing as good or bad luck (a*)

[It's hard to be nice] (b)

I'm not lucky (c*)

Good and bad luck really do exist (a)

I generally have good luck (c)

[I'm nice if I try] (b)

Luck doesn't affect what happens to me (a*)

I consider myself a lucky person (c)

Belief in luck is completely sensible (a)

[It's nice to try hard] (b)

Bad luck happens to me often (c*)

Luck only exists in peoples' minds (a*)

I'm usually lucky (c)


Interval measure:1 (Strongly disagree) to 5 (Strongly agree).

a. Belief in Luck items. b Distracter items. c Personal Luckiness items. *Reverse coded.


  1. ^ a b c d e Darke P.R. & Freedman J.L. (1997). The belief in good luck scale. Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 486–511.
  2. ^ Prendergast, G.P. & Thompson, E.R.(2008). Sales promotion strategies and belief in luck. Psychology & Marketing, 25 (11), 1043–1062.
  3. ^ Andre, N. (2006). Good fortune, luck, opportunity and their lack: How do agents perceive them? Personality and Individual Differences,40 (7), 1461–1472.
  4. ^ Maltby, J., Day, L., Gill, P., Colley, A., & Wood, A. M. (2008). Beliefs around luck: Confirming the empirical conceptualization of beliefs around luck and the development of the Darke and Freedman Beliefs Around Luck scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 655–660.
  5. ^ Thompson, E. R., & Prendergast, G. P. (2013). Belief in Luck and Luckiness: Conceptual Clarification and Measure Validation. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(4), 501-506.