Evaluation Behaviourist explanation NEGATIVESIs Skinner’s explanation a complete one?Where is our reward for not walking under aladder?!Staddon & Simmelhag (1997) replicated Skinner. They found the same behaviour but found that the ritual behaviours by pigeons were unrelated to the food reward. Therefore ‘accidental’learning of superstition may be incorrect.
Evaluation Behaviourist explanation POSITIVESDoes provide a reason as to why superstitions are so persistent. Enough of a link in the mind so that behaviour is continued thinking it will affect outcome.Good theory in relation to humans.One study was conducted in a library. The computer made a noise and participants had to stop it by pressing lots of buttons. When the noise happened again participants would press the same button which stopped it the first time (they assumed a cause when there was none).
Evaluation Evolutionary explanation NEGATIVESWe can criticise superstitions being‘adaptive’ as they often are not positive &can mean we have to take part in lengthyrituals e.g. John Terry’s procedure before agame!
Evaluation Evolutionary explanation POSITIVES Support from fact that universallysuperstition is common (part of folklore insome cultures). There are culturallytransmitted superstitions e.g. Tuesday 13thunlucky in Greece & some Spanishcountries. In UK is Friday 13th.
Evaluation Evolutionary explanation POSITIVESIf causal thinking has evolved because it isbeneficial to us this has implications for ourunderstanding of mental health e.g.schizophrenic patients having irrationaldelusions. Whitson & Galinsky (2008) showed thatpeople given a reduced sense of controlwere more likely to be superstitious. This benefits us as it prepares us for unpredictable circumstances rather than withdraw from them.
Other explanations of superstitionCognitive Superstitions could be result of faultycognitions. Jahoda highlights could be evidencethat superstitions are formed because of errorsin our perceptual and memory systems e.g.selective forgetting.
Other explanations of superstitionPsychodyanmicFreud attempted to explain superstitionsthrough unconscious mechanisms.
Exam question1. a) Describe one explanation of superstition (4/5 marks) b) Evaluate the explanation of superstition you offered in part (a). (5/6 marks)