Are all superstitious behaviors driven by the belief in the behavior’s instrumentality? Why do superstitious behaviors persist even in the face of counterevidence? Drawing on the functionalist tradition, we present a framework of superstitious behavior that builds on the underlying motivations behind such behavior. We categorize superstitious behaviors as motivated by the instrumental function (operating principle: Illusion of control), protective function (operating principles: Hope and counterfactual thinking), and social-adjustive function (operating principles: Social learning and belongingness). The proposed framework integrates disparate findings in the literature. We discuss the implications of the framework and its potential for shaping future research on the topic.
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