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How we wash away good or bad luck.

We all know that the actions of the body shape the mind, but we tend not to realize just how dramatic, and perhaps how ridiculous, the effect can be. For example, simply washing your hands can radically alter your willingness to take risks. A string of bad luck can be washed away with a handy wipe, but so can a string of good luck.

Consider this clever experiment by business students and their marketing professor Rami Zwick of the University of California, Riverside. In the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, half of the students were asked to recall an incident in which they had good luck financially, while the other half were asked to recall an incident of bad financial luck. Next, the students engaged in an apparently unrelated product evaluation study that involved an antiseptic wipe. Half of the students were told to wash their hands and evaluate the wipe, while the other half were told to evaluate the product without using it. Finally, the participants were given a managerial decision that involved risk. Taking the role of a company CEO, the students had to make a tough choice. Option 1 was safe: to keep the existing product, which had annual profits of about $20 million. Option 2 was risky: to modify the product and have a 75 percent chance of boosting profits to $24 million but also a 25 percent chance of dropping profits to $12 million.

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Here's what's fascinating. The risky option was chosen by:

1. 77 percent of those who recalled a lucky incident and didn't clean their hands

2. 35 percent of those who recalled a lucky incident and did clean their hands

3. 73 percent of those who recalled an unlucky incident and cleaned their hands

4. 36 percent of those who recalled an unlucky incident and didn't clean their hands

In other words, one can literally wash away both good and bad luck -and that will dramatically change your tolerance for risk.

The researchers then did a similar experiment with students in Hong Kong that involved rounds of gambling for real money. Not surprisingly, participants who experienced good luck in the first round bet more money in the second round than those who had bad luck. However, participants who had bad luck in the first round and washed their hands afterward bet a lot more money in the second round than those who did not wash their hands. Likewise, those who were lucky in the first round and then washed their hands bet less money in the second.

No matter where we live in the world, we really believe that good and bad luck can be washed away. It also may explain why businesses like Walmart offer free hand wipes at the door. Sure, they help kill germs, but they also probably encourage braver spending.

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Title Annotation:Updates & Observations: Soul+Body+Medicine
Author:Rice, Monika
Publication:Spirituality & Health Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2012
Words:477
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