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Fingers crossed! Lucky charms really do work, study shows

Hold on to your lucky underwear. Your favorite lucky charms might actually work, a new study shows.

In a German study, volunteers gave researchers their good luck charms: a worn stuffed animal, a key chain, a pretty stone or a piece of sentimental jewelry. Only half the participants were given them back while playing a computer memory game, and those with their charmed objects did better at the game than those without.

“Superstition increases people’s confidence,” says Lysann Damisch, one of the study’s co-authors and a social psychologist at Germany’s University of Cologne. “In other words, if you have your lucky charm close by, you feel more confident and secure about the following task, which makes you try harder and perform better.”

So your lucky charm boosts your confidence. Any kid who’s seen “Dumbo” recently can tell you that. (He didn’t need his lucky feather to fly because he believed in himself!) But when you’re facing a scary situation – like a job interview, or a first date – it’s comforting to know that wearing a lucky piece of jewelry might help get you through it.

Professional athletes are famous for their superstitious quirks: Michael Jordan routinely wore his lucky gym shorts from college under his Chicago Bulls uniform, and tennis phenomenon Serena Williams once wore the same pair of socks throughout a tournament. Celebrities are a little weirder: Chris Martin of Coldplay is rumored to never take the stage without first brushing his teeth, and (this one’s really weird) Megan Fox once told Conan O’Brien on “The Tonight Show” that she believes she must listen to Britney Spears for the duration of a flight – otherwise the plane will crash.

Hey, whatever works.

What’s your lucky charm? And has it ever seemed to bring you good luck? Tell us about it in the comments.

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