The Psychology of Luck – Why Do Some Players Always Win?

The Psychology of Luck – Why Do Some Players Always Win?

Many people consider themselves fortunate when they find money on the street or win the lottery; but what exactly makes someone lucky? Recent research indicates it may have more to do with psychology than chance.

Psychologists have observed that optimists tend to see others as fortunate while pessimists focus on misfortune. To learn more, watch the video above.


Researchers have observed that most individuals tend to favor positivity. Studies conducted on identical twins (who share 100 percent of their genetic material) show they tend to score higher on tests measuring optimism compared to fraternal twins or non-twin siblings.

Opponents often believe that negative events are temporary and limited in scope (rather than impacting all areas of their lives), so when faced with bad luck they often look for ways to imagine how things could have been even worse.

Richard Wiseman has conducted extensive studies of luck for more than a decade and discovered that lucky people excel at creating and seizing opportunities presented to them. One infamous experiment by Wiseman saw participants who identified as both lucky and unlucky read a newspaper before counting how many pictures appeared on each page; those who considered themselves lucky were more likely to notice the sign informing them it was time to stop counting than those who didn’t consider themselves so lucky; vice versa.

Attention to Detail

Luck can be defined as any event seemingly due to random chance rather than our actions, though its interpretation depends on our perspectives: optimists tend to view good fortune as lucky fortune while pessimists view misfortune as unlucky occurrences.

Studies conducted by social scientists have demonstrated that those who perceive themselves as lucky possess a positive mindset, making them open to new experiences and more willing to take chances than their counterparts.

Attention to detail is the ability to carefully consider all aspects of a task, from proofreading an email or reviewing expiration dates on products, down to small mistakes which might impact quality of their work. Individuals possessing this skill are able to recognize mistakes early and prevent them from impacting quality or timing – as a result they complete projects on time while saving resources by making fewer errors than other workers.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Though luck is ultimately determined by chance, researchers across disciplines have discovered that our interpretation and response to events can alter the outcome. This concept is known as causal loop. If we believe bad luck is our responsibility alone, for instance, then opportunities to change it might pass us by.

Example: An interviewee who feels nervous may struggle to answer questions confidently during their job interview while another with similar qualifications could ace the meeting and secure employment. Furthermore, minor accidents that could have been much worse may be seen by one as lucky while by another they can seem very unfortunate.

British academician Richard Wiseman spent a decade exploring what he called “the luck factor”, and ultimately came to believe that those who regularly find good fortune don’t need to be born lucky, but rather create it themselves. Wiseman believes what makes someone lucky is their openness to new experiences and an ability to recognize patterns in random acts of chance.


Luck may be determined by chance, but its manifestation can be altered through psychological behavior. Wiseman who began his career as a professional magician believes that lucky people possess skills for creating, recognizing, and seizing upon opportunities presented to them; networking effectively; adopting an easygoing attitude and following their intuition are also all hallmarks of luckiness.

Psychologists Hales and Johnson discovered in a recent study that one way to increase your luck is to persevere through challenging tasks, as evidenced by participants evaluating other people’s experiences (for instance: those living through Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombing or soldiers receiving rocket-propelled grenade injuries in combat). They asked participants to rate other people’s fortunes (such as an unlucky person surviving an explosion like Hiroshima/Nagasaki or receiving a rocket propelled grenade injury); optimists were more likely than pessimists to perceive others fortunes as fortunate than pessimists.

If you’re feeling unlucky, take heart. Networking, taking risks and staying committed are ways to turn things around – just don’t waste the weekend hanging upside-down horseshoes in your office.

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