An exploratory analysis of recreational and competitive athletes’ superstitious habits

Written by Annabella Sasvári, Szabolcs Gergő Harsányi, Alexandra Dér, Ágnes Szemes on . Posted in Volume XXIII, Nr 1


Annabella Sasvári1*, Szabolcs Gergő Harsányi2, Alexandra Dér1, Ágnes Szemes3

1University of Szeged, Institute of Psychology, Szeged, Hungary
2Institute of Psychology, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, Budapest, Hungary
3Department of Psychology and Sport Psychology, University of Physical Education, Budapest, Hungary


The sport’s rituals are an integral part of athletes’ life, and they may largely contribute to their coping with uncertainty and regaining control over competition. This study explored the popularity, perceived effectiveness and characteristic types of sports superstitions among 383 recreational and competitive athletes. Furthermore, the study revealed factors underlying the characteristics of superstitious habits. The results of the questionnaire survey showed that 55.1% of the athletes had at least one superstition, among which pre-match rituals proved the most popular. Nearly 70% of superstitious athletes reported the belief that their rituals had an influence on their performance. The mean perceived effectiveness of rituals was 3.21 on a 5-point scale. The number of superstitions was found to be positively related to the level of athletic activity, to the importance of success and to the athletes’ subjective sense of achievement. Furthermore, the type of the pursued sport also influenced the number of superstitions: among the five sports included in the analysis, the smallest number of rituals was reported by athletes pursuing racket sports, while the highest frequency was shown by handball players.

Keywords: sports superstitions, recreational and competitive athletes, importance of success, subjective sense of achievement



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