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«On the Relationship between Adolescents' Tendency to Superstition and the Source of Control Shahla Kashiha Iran Language Institute, Qazvin, Iran ...»

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International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences

April 2015, Vol. 5, No. 4

ISSN: 2222-6990

On the Relationship between Adolescents' Tendency to

Superstition and the Source of Control

Shahla Kashiha

Iran Language Institute, Qazvin, Iran

Email: Shahla_kashiha@hotmail.com

DOI: 10.6007/IJARBSS/v5-i4/1566 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.6007/IJARBSS/v5-i4/1566


We live in a real world but we still see the existence of many beliefs that do not match up with

any logic but magic! This study aimed at identifying the relationship between superstition and locus of control and finding out whether people with more superstitious beliefs were more in an external locus of control or internal. Two hundred and fifty students in grades one, two and three in Beheshti high school in Qazvin, Iran participated in this study. To measure source of control, Rutter questionnaire consisting of twenty nine items was used and superstitions were also evaluated using a questionnaire. The results revealed that there was significant relationship between external sources of control and having superstitious beliefs. The results also highlighted the fact that while the relationship between two variables of research was positive, but with the increase in the score of the external and internal source of control, positive relationship with the superstitions variable was reduced.

Keywords: locus of control- superstition- adolescents’ tendency Theoretical Background of the Study Humans from ancient days, when they could see nothing but themselves and the world around them and in this hostile world that the power of nature had forced them to defeat, had a willingness to believe in supernatural thoughts and the belief in the existence of influential and even powerful forces than nature, his eternal enemy. All of us are familiar with tales of witches, and countless legends and charms that change everyone's life in a fairy tale. The more these myths and superstitions are prevalent among people, the stronger and more intense they become the basis of thoughts and beliefs of people. Superstitions and beliefs have no scientific proof capabilities. Usually when people have a strong superstitious belief about a phenomenon they can tell exactly what happened, but they cannot logically explain why this happened.

(Askik, 2002) What is needed to discuss about is how this human, after survival and development in the field of technology and readiness against the forces of nature, still clutching to thoughts that is contrary to scientific principles and even against the laws of superb nature! Nowadays we call these thoughts and bel

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to calm their troubled mind that there's something they do not know about, rather than saying that things are happening accidentally. As "Malinowski" says: “people resort to magic when they cannot inhibit Living conditions and incidents through knowledge.” Is believing in superstitions happens because we assume that one random event is the reason of another event?

“Khorafe=superstition” is an Arabic word, and the root of it is "Kheref= idiocy“that means picking fruit. “Khorafe=superstition” with attached the letter “Kh”, means anecdote, story or an immoral and wrong idea, and the plural of it is “Khorafat=superstitions”.

Superstition in Larousse dictionary means deterioration of mind. In the lexicon of Amid (1365, p. 1001) the definition of the word superstition is "unfounded beliefs that are not compatible with reason, logic and reality." Also in the Oxford Dictionary, superstition defined as fictitious and legendary speech, incorrect understanding of cause and effect, fear of the unknown and radical belief in supernaturalism factors and any unreasonable and unfounded belief. (Oxford,

2005) and in Longman Dictionary it means irrational belief based on old beliefs about luck, magic, etc. (Longman, 2012), superstition also means following void and unfounded beliefs that have nothing in common with the culture and wisdom of the society that superstitious person belongs to. (Molavi, 1382, p. 1) Superstition in Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics defined as a tend to ascribe incidents to supernatural or occult influences and regulate the behavior toward this approach that we should use the evils and damages that will bring forth these effects. (Hastings, 1980) Apparently the prefix “super” implies some indulgence and extravagance; this extravagance can be considered generally as exaggerating a reasonable belief to be of some supernatural factors, with a willingness to accept unproven words about spiritual or magical intervention in the material world.

Based on the book of psychology of superstition, Jahuda define superstition in this way:

“Any thought or irrational act and illogical fear or dread of something mysterious and fantasy and a doubt or habit that its basis is ignorance or fear, is called superstition." (Jahuda, 1371, p.


Robert Ingersoll offers a practical definition of superstition. He defines superstition as:

- Believing in things that there isn’t any empirical evidence for them

- Estimation of a secret by another secret

- Believing that the world is guided by chance and whim

- Presentation of thoughts, desires and intentions with reference to their basic nature

- Believing that the mind is not able to control phenomena

- Believing that energy is beyond its nature or nature is beyond its energy

- Believe in supernaturalism

- Believe in miracles, magic, spells and divination Kohler also believes: “"Superstition is an irrational or unscientific belief about the role playing of phenomena in the world and this belief either formed based on imitation or it is accompanied by (usually) ill desires. So superstition is always accompanied by charms, magic and spells. Superstition is a belief or thought that has no scientific support and it’s about a thing, situation, event or special act to be ominous. (Random House English Dictionary, 2012) A 182 www.hrmars.com International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences April 2015, Vol. 5, No. 4 ISSN: 2222-6990 superstitious mind is the one that doesn't know how to understand and identify the characteristics of signs and/or has no patience for judging unknown phenomena. (Gardner, 1980) As humans go through the stages of growth, based on the experiences of each period, they experience certain characteristics. Paul B.Balts quoted from James W. and Vender Senden that different elements affect the changes of human growth, including: the normative effects related to age, normative effects related to social-historical context and non-normative effects.

Heinz Werner is one of the theorists of transformational school; his theory is very similar to Piaget's theory. There are a couple of thoughts on the evolution of “self”, one of its type is geometrical-technical intelligence, which includes logical and scientific intellection. In advanced industrial cultures geometrical-technical thinking increasingly dominates the idea of a child that is growing. Another type of thinking is physiognomy, which is predominant in early childhood. A child by this type of thinking considers the world to be alive and animate and does not distinguish between inanimate and animate objects. This is what Piaget called (animacy). One of the stages of human intellectual development is the tendency to magic and to assume that things are all animated and it can be with humans even in adulthood. (William C. Crane, 1985) Now this question comes to mind that if a man in his process of thinking makes a mistake or get an unrealistic understanding and make it real to relieve from stress and anxiety, can it be classified as superstitious thoughts? If age plays an important role in the evolution of thinking, aren’t adolescence and youth different in terms of acceptance of superstitious thoughts?

According to Werner in “Pioneers in psychology of growth”, physiognomic perception, not only characterized young children, but also was used by primitive tribes without a written culture and schizophrenic patients suffer from deterioration, because they usually think base on primary methods. It looks like the way of thinking of humans change due to being at different stages of growth.

Gallup Poll in a research concluded that three factors affect the belief of strange phenomenon: gender, age and education level. For example, women slightly more than men believe in spirits and communicate with the dead, and men are believe only in one thing more than women: that some creatures out of this earthly world, somewhere in the past, have visited the earth (Gallup Poll, 2001).

According to Piaget's cognitive theory, thoughts of adolescents after childhood, goes from objective to subjective operations. In this age a teenager is capable of reasoning and making assumptions. At this age, teenagers acquire new cognitive skills and that is an initiator of thinking about the non-objective phenomenon.

According to Rutter's theory people behave base on two type of control, internal and external control. People, who identified as characters with internal source of control, believe that the reinforcement they receive is under the control of their own behavior and attitudes. Those who have characters with external source of control think that the rewards they receive is controlled by others, fate, or chance. In other words, they are convinced that in regard of external forces, they are incapable, (Wallen P. Schultz, 2005). People with external control; quickly give up on their efforts, because they consider the control of their lives and their actions to be under the 183 www.hrmars.com International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences April 2015, Vol. 5, No. 4 ISSN: 2222-6990 influence of environment and external factors. A research has determined that efforts for our external control starts from childhood and becomes more prominent between 8 to 14 years old (Menger and Auckland, 2000).

External control is harmful for psychological health. (Krald et al. 2002, 2003; Thomas and Astitz). Several studies show that people with internal source of control are physically healthier than those with external source of control (Farahani,1378). Those with an internal source of control are more in control of their lives and are more responsible for ordering their lives (Ashby, 2002).

Carey Kaldy et al (2002) stated that internal source of control is directly related to mental and general health. Also, people with internal source of control report more satisfaction of life. Several studies of Farahani (1379) associated with source control, health and psychopathology show that people with internal source of control, have more psychological adaptability. Married students, more than single students, tend to have internal source of control and depression among them is less likely than single students. Individuals with internal source of control more than those with external source of control have been interested in their field of study. The presence of suicidal thoughts and hopelessness about the future in those students who tend to have external source of control, is significantly higher than students who have internal source of control. Also tendency toward the internal source of control and depression levels in students showed a negative correlation. There was sharper drop in academic performance of students who have external source of control compared to those who tend to have internal source of control. (Pahlavian, and Mahboob, Zarabian, 1378) The researchers (Baron & Byrne, 1991) believe that people with external control in competitive situations tend to give up more but at the time of cooperation, act as well as people with internal control. People with internal source of control in social challenges have more influence on their outcomes and stand up against the pressure of similarity. But people with external source of control have less inhibitory over events and in stressful situations, consider themselves unable to do anything. Besides, those with external source of control are more sensitive toward the signs that comes from the surrounding environment and show more attention to them, while people with internal source of control do not notice these subtle signs or do not respond to them.

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The results of the study of Safarinia and Akbari (1391) showed that the risk-seeking behavior has a significant positive correlation with external source of control. Furthermore, external source of control has positive correlation with intuitive and dependent decision making styles and has negative correlation with rational decision making, while internal source of control has positive correlation with rational style. Also in another study, there was a positive correlation between age and source of control and between grade point average and self-esteem, while the source of control and self-esteem were negatively correlated. (Mirzaee Alavijeh, Rajai, Rezaei, Hassanpour, Piruzeh, Barzabadi, 1390).

The results showed that there is a significant difference between the source of control of students who are undergoing critical thinking and students who have not taken this training.

This means that critical thinking can change some of the traits and characteristics and in this paper our intended characteristic is source of control and the impact of critical thinking on this variable. (Safarinia, Zare, Hassani, 1391) A significant correlation was observed between loneliness and external source of control (tendency toward chance) in boys, who are not athlete. According to the relationship between loneliness and external source of control (tendency toward chance) in boys, who are not athlete, it can be said that boys who are not athlete and have external source of control with the belief that they have less control over the events of their life, feel more alone. Also, the existence of significant differences in internal source of control between two groups indicates that athletes have more control over their own lives and consider themselves responsible for their successes and failures. (Shamsaee &Yusefi, 1386).

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