Every year when March 17 rolls around, we're asked to embrace a strange collection of things: Ireland, cabbage, leprechauns, green baked goods, binge drinking, and these guys who walk in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Metairie, Louisiana giving out garters and plastic roses to random women.
It's also, ostensibly, a celebration of luck, which for me has always evoked deep skepticism. I think immediately of gambling, which seems pretty destructive (not to mention a real waste of money). Perhaps it's a type A thing, too: Why leave anything to chance or hope something will go your way when you can plan it meticulously, possibly to the annoyance of everyone around you? Then again, I've observed that type A folks also tend to have good luck charms. I have a friend who over-prepared for every exam she subsequently aced in high school and college, but she had to wear a certain sweater to every single one of those exams. Without question. I thought this was a little crazy of her -- clearly she was going to do well every time, and the sweater had nothing to do with it.
It turns out that I was wrong. A 2010 study published in the journal Psychological Science showed that "activating" a good luck charm can improve your motor dexterity, memory and performance in certain games. Why? Because you think of yourself as being more capable with your good luck charm nearby. "Activating a superstition boosts participants' confidence in mastering upcoming tasks, which in turn improves performance," the researchers wrote.
So essentially, it's a placebo effect, and a pretty effective one.
In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, activate your luck by sending a photo of your good luck charm and a short description of what it does for you, how you got it, or something else that makes this item special to email@example.com. We'll feature it in the slideshow below!