ⓘ Luck is the phenomenon and the belief that defines the experience of notably positive, negative, or improbable events. The naturalistic interpretation is that p ..


ⓘ Luck

Luck is the phenomenon and the belief that defines the experience of notably positive, negative, or improbable events. The naturalistic interpretation is that positive and negative events happen all the time in human lives, both due to random and non-random natural and artificial processes, and that even improbable events can happen by random chance. In this view, being "lucky" or "unlucky" is simply a descriptive label that points out an events positivity, negativity, or improbability.

Supernatural interpretations of luck consider it to be an attribute of a person or object, or the result of a favorable or unfavorable view of a deity upon a person. These interpretations often prescribe how luckiness or unluckiness can be obtained, such as by carrying a lucky charm or offering sacrifices or prayers to a deity. Saying someone is "born lucky" then might mean, depending on the interpretation, anything from that they have been born into a good family or circumstance, or that they habitually experience improbably positive events due to some inherent property or the lifelong favor of a god or goddess in a monotheistic or polytheistic religion.

Many superstitions are related to luck, though these are often specific to a given culture or set of related cultures, and sometimes contradictory. For example, lucky symbols include the number 7 in Christian-influenced cultures, but the number 8 in Chinese-influenced cultures. Unlucky symbols and events include entering and leaving a house by different doors in Greek culture, throwing rocks into the wind in Navajo culture, and ravens in Western culture. Some of these associations may derive from related facts or desires. For example, in Western culture opening an umbrella indoors might be considered unlucky partly because it could poke someone in the eye, whereas shaking hands with a chimney sweep might be considered lucky partly because it is a kind but unpleasant thing to do given the dirty nature of their work. In Chinese culture, the association of the number 4 as a homophone with the word for death may explain why it is considered unlucky. Extremely complicated and sometimes contradictory systems for prescribing auspicious and inauspicious times and arrangements of things have been devised, for example feng shui in Chinese culture and systems of astrology in various cultures around the world.

Many polytheistic religions have specific gods or goddesses that are associated with luck, both good and bad, including Fortuna and Felicitas in the Ancient Roman religion the former related to the words "fortunate" and "unfortunate" in English, Dedun in Nubian religion, the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese mythology, mythical American serviceman John Frum in Polynesian cargo cults, and the inauspicious Alakshmi in Hinduism.


1. Etymology and definition

The English noun luck appears comparatively late, during the 1480s, as a loan from Low German, Dutch or Frisian luk, a short form of gelucke Middle High German gelucke. Compare to old Slavic word lukyj лукый - appointed by destiny and old Russian luchaj лучаи - destiny, fortune. It likely entered English as a gambling term, and the context of gambling remains detectable in the words connotations; luck is a way of understanding a personal chance event. Luck has three aspects:

  • Luck applies to a sentient being.
  • Luck is good or bad.
  • Luck is the result of chance.

Before the adoption of luck at the end of the Middle Ages, Old English and Middle English expressed the notion of "good fortune" with the word speed Middle English spede, Old English spēd; speed besides "good fortune" had the wider meaning of "prosperity, profit, abundance"; it is not associated with the notion of probability or chance but rather with that of fate or divine help; a bestower of success can also be called speed, as in "Christ be our speed".

The notion of probability was expressed by the Latin loanword chance, adopted in Middle English from the late 13th century, literally describing an outcome as a "falling" as it were of dice, via Old French cheance from Late Latin cadentia "falling". Fortuna, the Roman goddess of fate or luck, was popular an allegory in medieval times, and even though it was not strictly reconcilable with Christian theology, it became popular in learned circles of the High Middle Ages to portray her as a servant of God in distributing success or failure in a characteristically "fickle" or unpredictable way, thus introducing the notion of chance.


2.1. Interpretations As lack of control

Luck refers to that which happens to a person beyond that persons control. This view incorporates phenomena that are chance happenings, a persons place of birth for example, but where there is no uncertainty involved, or where the uncertainty is irrelevant. Within this framework, one can differentiate between three different types of luck:

  • Constitutional luck, that is, luck with factors that cannot be changed. Place of birth and genetic constitution are typical examples.
  • Circumstantial luck - with factors that are haphazardly brought on. Accidents and epidemics are typical examples.
  • Ignorance luck, that is, luck with factors one does not know about. Examples can be identified only in hindsight.

Circumstantial luck with accidental happenstance of favorable discoveries and/or inventions is serendipity.


2.2. Interpretations As a fallacy

Another view holds that "luck is probability taken personally." A rationalist approach to luck includes the application of the rules of probability and an avoidance of unscientific beliefs. The rationalist thinks that the belief in luck is a result of poor reasoning or wishful thinking. To a rationalist, a believer in luck who asserts that something has influenced his or her luck commits the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" logical fallacy: that because two events are connected sequentially, they are connected causally as well. In general:

A happens luck-attracting event or action and then B happens; Therefore, A influenced B.

More contemporary authors writing on the subject believe that the definition of good destiny is: One who enjoys good health; has the physical and mental capabilities of achieving his goals in life; has good appearance, and; has happiness in mind and is not prone to accidents.

In the rationalist perspective, probability is only affected by confirmed causal connections.

The gamblers fallacy and inverse gamblers fallacy both explain some reasoning problems in common beliefs in luck. They involve denying the unpredictability of random events: "I havent rolled a seven all week, so Ill definitely roll one tonight".

Philosopher Daniel Dennett wrote that "luck is mere luck" rather than a property of a person or thing.


2.3. Interpretations As an essence

There is also a series of spiritual, or supernatural beliefs regarding fortune. These beliefs vary widely from one to another, but most agree that luck can be influenced through spiritual means by performing certain rituals or by avoiding certain circumstances.

Luck can also be a belief in an organization of fortunate and unfortunate events. Luck is a form of superstition which is interpreted differently by different individuals. Carl Jung coined the term synchronicity, which he described as "a meaningful coincidence".

Abrahamic religions believe God controls future events; belief in luck or fate is criticised in Book of Isaiah chapter 65, verses 11-12:

  • What will happen to you for offering food and wine to the gods you call good luck and fate? Your luck will end.

Belief in the extent of Divine Providence varies; most acknowledge providence as at least a partial, if not complete influence on luck. Christianity, in its early development, accommodated many traditional practices which at different times, accepted omens and practiced forms of ritual sacrifice in order to divine the will of their supreme being or to influence divine favoritism. The concepts of "Divine Grace" or "Blessing" as they are described by believers closely resemble what is referred to as "luck" by others.

Mesoamerican religions, such as the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, had particularly strong beliefs regarding the relationship between rituals and the gods, which could in a similar sense to Abrahamic religions be called luck or providence. In these cultures, human sacrifice both of willing volunteers and captured enemies, as well as self-sacrifice by means of bloodletting, could possibly be seen as a way to propitiate the gods and earn favor for the city offering the sacrifice. An alternative interpretation would be that the sacrificial blood was considered as a necessary element for the gods to maintain the proper working order of the universe, in the same way that oil would be applied to an automobile to keep it working as designed.

Many traditional African practices, such as voodoo and hoodoo, have a strong belief in superstition. Some of these religions include a belief that third parties can influence an individuals luck. Shamans and witches are both respected and feared, based on their ability to cause good or bad fortune for those in villages near them.


2.4. Interpretations As a self-fulfilling prophecy

Some evidence supports the idea that belief in luck acts like a placebo, producing positive thinking and improving peoples responses to events.

In personality psychology, people reliably differ from each other depending on four key aspects: beliefs in luck, rejection of luck, being lucky, and being unlucky. People who believe in good luck are more optimistic, more satisfied with their lives, and have better moods. People who believe they are personally unlucky experience more anxiety, and less likely to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. One 2010 study found that golfers who were told they were using a "lucky ball" performed better than those who were not.

Some people intentionally put themselves in situations that increase the chances of a serendipitous encounter, such as socializing with people who work in different fields.


3. Social aspects

Luck is an important factor in many aspects of society.


A defining feature of a lottery is that winners are selected purely by chance. Marketing and other discussions regarding lotteries often mention luck.

Means of resolving issues

"Leaving it to chance" is a way of resolving issues. For example, flipping a coin at the start of a sporting event may determine who goes first.


3.1. Social aspects Games

The philosopher Nicholas Rescher has proposed that the luck of someones result in a situation of uncertainty is measured by the difference between this partys yield and expectation: λ = Y - E. Thus skill enhances expectation and reduces luck. The extent to which different games will depend on luck, rather than skill or effort, varies considerably. For example, chess does not involve any random factors beyond the determination of which player moves first, while the outcome of Snakes and Ladders is entirely based on random dice rolls. In poker, especially games with a communal board, pure luck may decide a winning hand. Luck in games involving chance is defined as the change in a players equity after a random event such as a die roll or card draw. Luck is positive good luck if the players position is improved and negative bad luck if it is worsened. A poker player who is doing well playing successfully, winning is said to be "running good".

Almost all sports contain elements of luck. A statistical analysis in the book The Success Equation attempted to elucidate the differing balance between skill and luck with respect to how teams finished in the major North American sports leagues. This analysis concluded that, on a luck-skill continuum, the NBA had the most skill-dependant result while that of the NHL was most luck-dependant.


3.2. Social aspects Lotteries

A defining feature of a lottery is that winners are selected purely by chance. Marketing and other discussions regarding lotteries often mention luck.


3.3. Social aspects Numerology

Most cultures consider some numbers to be lucky or unlucky. This is found to be particularly strong in Asian cultures, where the obtaining of "lucky" telephone numbers, automobile license plate numbers, and household addresses are actively sought, sometimes at great monetary expense. Numerology, as it relates to luck, is closer to an art than to a science, yet numerologists, astrologists or psychics may disagree. It is interrelated to astrology, and to some degree to parapsychology and spirituality and is based on converting virtually anything material into a pure number, using that number in an attempt to detect something meaningful about reality, and trying to predict or calculate the future based on lucky numbers. Numerology is folkloric by nature and started when humans first learned to count. Through human history it was, and still is, practiced by many cultures of the world from traditional fortune-telling to on-line psychic reading.


3.4. Social aspects Science

Different thinkers like Thomas Kuhn have discussed the role of chance in scientific discoveries. Richard Wiseman did a ten-year scientific study into the nature of luck that has revealed that, to a large extent, people make their own good and bad fortune. His research revealed that "Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, making lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, creating self-fulfilling prophecies via positive expectations, and adopting a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good." Researchers have suggested that good luck and good mood often co-occur Duong & Ohtsuka, 2000 and that lucky people are happy and optimistic whereas unlucky people feel anxious and depressed.

Although previous studies have explored the antecedents and consequences of luck using attribution theory, personality variables Darke & Freedman, 1997a;b, and more recently a cognitive priming approach research on the underlying mechanism of how luck influences consumer judgment and behavior has been noticeably absent in the extant literature. Moreover, in much of this previous work, luck is manipulated in a way that is very likely to elicit positive affect as well. Thus, it is difficult to articulate whether the observed effects of luck are due to chronic beliefs about luck, temporary changes in how lucky people feel, or because of changes caused by the positive affect that is experienced. Their research showed that priming participants subliminally with luck-related stimuli made them feel luckier and happier. It was also found that the effects of priming luck using subliminal messages increased participants estimates of the likelihood of favorable events, their participation in lotteries, the amount of money they invested in relatively risky financial options and these effects appeared to be mediated by temporary changes in perceptions of luck rather than by affect).


4.1. In religion and mythology Buddhism

Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, taught his followers not to believe in luck. He taught that all things which happen must have a cause, either material or spiritual, and do not occur due to luck, chance or fate. The idea of moral causality, karma Pali: kamma, is central in Buddhism. In the Sutta Nipata, the Buddha is recorded as having said the following about selling luck:

Whereas some religious men, while living of food provided by the faithful make their living by such low arts, such wrong means of livelihood as palmistry, divining by signs, interpreting dreams. bringing good or bad luck. invoking the goodness of luck. picking the lucky site for a building, the monk Gautama refrains from such low arts, such wrong means of livelihood. D.I, 9–12

However, belief in luck is prevalent in many predominantly Buddhist countries. In Thailand, Buddhists may wear verses takrut or lucky amulets which have been blessed by monks for protection against harm.


4.2. In religion and mythology Christianity and Judaism

Proverbs 16:33 states "the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord". Ecclesiastes 9:11 states: "chance happeneth to them all". Proverbs 16:33 would indicate that something as random as the rolling of dice or the tossing of a coin is not outside of Gods sovereign control. And, therefore, its results are not merely of chance.

Gods sovereignty involves two aspects. Gods active will or sovereignty would involve something he causes to happen such as the leading of wicked King Ahab into battle 2 Chronicles 18:18-19. Ahabs death was not merely the result of a randomly shot arrow, but as 2 Chronicles 18 reveals, God actively directed the events that led Ahab into battle and used that randomly shot arrow to accomplish his intended will for Ahab that day.

Gods passive will involves him allowing, rather than causing, something to happen. Chapter 1 of the book of Job illustrates this in what God allowed Satan to do in the life of Job. It is also involved in the evil that God allowed Josephs brothers to do to Joseph in order to accomplish a greater good, a good not apparent to Joseph until years later Genesis 50:20.


4.3. In religion and mythology Hinduism

In Hinduism it is said that by proper worship, with a meticulous prayer procedure Sanskrit: Shri Lakshmi Sahasranam Pujan Vidhi the blessings of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of money and fortune, may be obtained. Lakshmi Parayan prayer is performed in most Hindu homes on the day of Diwali, the festival of lights. At that time also Rangoli are drawn, decorative designs on floors of living rooms and courtyards during Hindu festivals that are meant as a sacred welcoming area for the luck.


4.4. In religion and mythology Islam

The definition which is much closer to the concept of luck in Islam is "a force that brings good fortune or adversity" Quran 17-13 Isra: "And for every man We have fastened to him his fatefortune in his neck, and We will bring forth for him on the Day of the Resurrection a record which he will find wide open". However, there is a very long discussion on how this prefixed destiny, fortune or luck defines attitudes and living behavior and so as to how much amends one can make in this predetermined fate by ones own contribution through positive actions in accordance with the teachings of Islam. There is no concept of luck in Islam other than actions determined by Allah based on the merit of the choice made by human beings. It is stated in the Quran Sura: Adh-Dhariyat The Winds that Scatter verse:22) that ones sustenance is pre-determined in heaven when the Lord says: "And in the heaven is your provision and that which ye are promised." However, one should supplicate towards Allah to better ones life rather than hold faith in un-Islamic acts such as using "lucky charms". However, in the Arabic language there is a word which directly means "luck", which is حظ hazz, and a related word for "lucky", محظوظ mahzūz. It is also forbidden to believe in luck or anything else related to luck, as it is classified as shirk associating partners to Allah or giving any share of any attribution which belongs to Allah and Allah alone.

The Tunisians retain some native beliefs of Berber origin such as the evil eye. A number of practices, such as shutters painted blue are also used to repel evil spirits.


5.1. Measuring belief in luck Belief in good luck

Darke and Freedman 1997 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". 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. Unfortunately, they found their measure "does not seem particularly good at distinguishing between people who typically unlucky". They also found factor analyses of their measure produced a multi-component solution, as did Prendergast and Thompson 2008.


5.2. Measuring belief in luck Multidimensional beliefs about luck

Andre 2006 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 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.


5.3. Measuring belief in luck Belief in luck and luckiness

Thompson and Prendergast 2013 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.


6. Bibliography

  • Taleb, Nassim N. "Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets" Random House 2001 ISBN 0812975219
  • Gunther, Max. "The Luck Factor" Harriman House Ltd 1977. ISBN 9781906659950
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "The Drunkards Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives" Penguin Group, 2008. ISBN 0375424040
  • Hartman, Robert ed., Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Psychology London: Routledge, 2019.
  • Rescher, Nicholas. "Luck", Farrar Strauss Giroux 1995. Reissued University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001
  • Mauboussin, Michael. "The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing." Harvard Business Review Press, 2012 ISBN 9781422184233
  • Daniel Luck born 1991 German footballer Hans - Joachim Luck born 1953 German rower Heidi Luck born 1943 German politician Ingolf Luck born 1958
  • Andrew Austen Luck born September 12, 1989 is a former American football quarterback who played all seven years of his professional career with the Indianapolis
  • luck is harmful, negative, or undesirable luck or fortune. Bad luck may also refer to: Bad Luck 1960 film a film directed by Andrzej Munk Bad Luck
  • Good Luck Charlie is an American sitcom that originally aired on Disney Channel from April 4, 2010, to February 16, 2014. The series creators, Phil Baker
  • Lady Luck is a personification of luck a vernacular version of Fortuna. It may also refer to: Lady Luck 1936 film a film featuring Charles Lane Lady
  • Luck Logic ラクエンロジック, Raku en Rojikku is a media franchise created by Bushiroad with five other companies: Bandai Visual, Doga Kobo, Nitroplus, Lantis
  • Press Your Luck is an American television game show created by Bill Carruthers and Jan McCormack. It premiered on CBS daytime on September 19, 1983, and
  • Pot luck may refer to: Potluck, a form of group gathering, usually involving a meal Pot Luck 1936 film L Auberge espagnole, a 2002 film also released
  • Luck is a chance happening. Luck may also refer to: Luck North Carolina, United States Luck town Wisconsin, United States Luck Wisconsin, a village
  • Good luck may refer to: Beneficial or desirable luck or fortune Good luck a parting phrase Goodluck Jonathan, born 1957 President of Nigeria Goodluck
  • Good Night, and Good Luck stylized as good night, and good luck is a 2005 historical drama film directed by George Clooney, and starring David Strathairn
  • Luck is a village in Polk County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 1, 119 at the 2010 census. Luck was originally two settlements, Luck on Big