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Go Luck Yourself! Exploring the impact of positive psychology interventions on experiences of 'luck'



Positive psychology interventions have been shown to have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing (see, for example, Bolier et al., 2013 for a review). These interventions may include, for example, gratitude journals, mindfulness practices, and cultivating optimism. However, to date there has been little research directly examining the impact of such interventions upon experiences that are often attributed to ‘luck’ (i.e., unplanned events that may often be perceived as being outside of one’s control). One exception is Wiseman’s (2004) ‘luck school’, in which a small number of volunteers were briefed in regards to four ‘luck factor’ principles, asked to build these into their daily lives over a period of one month, and report if and how these principles impacted on their experiences of ‘luck’. The present study builds upon Wiseman’s initial exploration of ‘luck school’ by (a) drawing explicitly on positive psychology research; (b) extending the period to a 3-month period; and (c) including additional psychological measures. Sixty six participants were recruited to take part in a programme of positive psychology interventions consisting of six sessions over a 12-week period, with a single session once per fortnight. Each session lasted approximately 30 minutes and focused on a key aspect of the positive psychology and how this might impact upon experiences ‘luck’ (e.g. expressing gratitude; cultivating optimism; raising awareness of opportunities; etc.). Online participation was also made possible by posting a recording of the session on a virtual learning environment (Blackboard™). Measures of perceived luckiness, optimism, positive and negative affect, and state anxiety were administered at the beginning and end of the 12-week period via PsychData (an online tool for administering surveys). Participants were also asked to maintain a regular ‘luck journal’ in which they recorded their thoughts about, and experiences of, ‘luck’ during the 12 weeks, and an open-ended questionnaire at the end of the period. Findings presented at the conference will include comparisons of pre- and post-intervention as well as a thematic analysis of participants’ experiences of taking part in the programme and their perceptions of how it might have impacted upon their experiences of ‘luck’. References Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G. J., Riper, H., Smith, F, & Bohlmeijer, E. (2013). Positive psychology interventions: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BMC Public Health, 13: 119. [] Wiseman, R. (2004). The Luck Factor. London: Arrow Books.
Go Luck Yourself!
Exploring the impact of positive psychology
interventions on experiences of ‘luck’
Matthew D. Smith and Piers Worth
Department of Psychology
Buckinghamshire New University, UK
PhD research
The Luck Factor
Positive Psychology
Positive emotions
Resilience Go Luck
Dictionary definition:
success or failure apparently brought by chance
rather than through one’s own actions; chance
considered as a force that causes good or bad
things to happen; …
Oxford English Dictionary (2016). Oxford University
What is ‘luck’?
Go Luck
Six fortnightly sessions
Attendance and online
Psychological measures
Perceived Luckiness;
Optimism (LOT-R);
State anxiety
Luck Journals
Qualitative accounts
Go Luck
Embracing luck
Recognising the role of luck
The good luck mindset
Gratitude and Expect good luck
Opportunity knocks
Noticing and creating opportunities
Go with the flow
Trust in unplanned events
Stercus accidit*
Develop resilient thinking *Sh*t happens
Go Luck
Extracts from Session 2
Some initial findings
66 participants signed up and completed online
measures at Time 1
54 females; 12 males
Mean age 42.11 years (SD=11.04)
Only 14 completed online measures at Time 2
Significant increase in Perceived Luckiness .71
Non-significant decrease in state anxiety .39
Non-significant decrease in LOT-R scores .38
Non-significant decrease in Positive Affect .07
Non-significant increase in Negative Affect .11
Cohen’s d
Go Luck
20 completed and submitted Luck Journal
Thoughts about the sessions and how to
apply ideas
Accounts of ‘luck’ experiences
unplanned events;
how things might have been different;
Ways of interpreting events
‘bad luck’ vs. ‘unlucky’
Luck Journals
Go Luck
Beliefs about luck
The good luck mindset
Luck Journals
Go Luck
Go Luck
Beliefs about luck
‘Rules’ of luck…
luck is like gravity, when you get some good luck,
you must get some bad” [P17]
Luck vs. Fate?
“I don’t often think in terms of bad luck, more in
terms of it wasn’t meant to be” [P6]
‘Attracting’ luck…
“I am a big believer in luck and completely believe if
you think you are lucky then you are. Just by thinking
you are lucky you attract and notice things that you
may have ignored before.” [P13]
Beliefs about luck
Luck in relation to…
“where I have made a choice there seems
an element of luck, but also a lot of
preparedness” [P1]
“…good luck/bad luck/maybe… (time will
tell)” [P19]
Reluctance to attribute ‘fully’ to luck
Go Luck
Beliefs about luck
Not ‘Believing’ in luck…?
“I don't believe in luck as force or entity but I do
believe that most of what happens in life is down
to chance.
“I do have a faith too which is going to add to the
challenge because I think it could be argued that
belief in a God could, essentially, be another form
of believing in luck. Gosh! That's a thought. I
don't like to think that but it's probably worth
exploring if I can be brave enough to follow that
one through.” [P12]
Go Luck
Optimism and gratitude
“Optimistic about winning something on the £100
million Euromillions draw! HaHa - won £3.50...
better than a slap in the face with a wet kipper!
Grateful for the win :-)” [P9]
And a ‘bad luck mindset’?
“…On the bright side, things can only get better
....unless you’re me, in which case expect new
levels of bad luck coming…”
“…That would round it up to the 3 that bad luck
comes in” … “…Gone and won myself a chest
infection. Guess going with my cut hand that won't
heal and my burnt arm, that's my three.” [P16]
The ‘good luck mindset’?
Go Luck
Links to the ‘good luck mindset’?
“It's like the change in your mindset has attracted
more luck in your life not from some strange external
force but instead because you are opened to the
opportunities placed in front of you and more willing
to grab them with both hands.”
“Grasp the opportunities you have before you and
always consider yourself to be lucky. The positive
effect this will have on your life will be amazing and
before long you will feel luckier and good things will
come your way.”[P13]
Go Luck
Finding meaning
“Breaking leg and illness in late
20s. Devastated. World had ended. Never get
out of it. Major impact on life. Six years signed
sick. Told never work again. Now - so glad it
all happened. Provided the catalyst for change
in mindset and life. Two lives in one. Very
grateful and blessed!” [P20]
Go Luck
Next steps
Full analysis of luck journals
Go Luck Yourself! Sessions
still available online
Plans to develop materials
Interactive journals
Digital and mobile Go Luck
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