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THE CULTURE OF FILIPINO SUPERSTITIOUS BELIEFS AND ITS

INFLUENCE IN THE HEALTH THEMES OF WMSU STUDENTS

A research paper presented to the College of Liberal Arts of the


Western Mindanao State University

A Paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements


For Sociology & Anthropology

by:

Samaco, Maria Ann Grace O.


Rizada, Aizel
Montallana, Milamay
Taup, Marijay Merlina
Anjah, Algafar
Laja, Sitti Kharna A.
Ibrahim, Noraziah
March 12, 2015

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
We gratefully and wholeheartedly would like to thank the following individuals who have
inspired us, of which we find our strength and encouragement since the idealization until the
materialization of this paper.

First and foremost, we would like to thank God for guiding and giving us the
strength and knowledge in doing this research paper,
To our teacher in Socio-Anthropology, Ms. Irish Salasain Jawali without her
assistance and dedicated involvement throughout the process, this paper would
never have been completed. We would like to thank you so much for the
support these past few weeks,
To our parents for their reassurance in a thousand ways and financial help in
order to materialize this paper
To Mr. and Mrs. Cirilo Samaco for allowing us to do our research works in
their residence and extending their help in one way or another
To our friends, classmates and relatives who pushed us to our limits
Thank you so much for without your help and support! We dedicate this research
paper to you and from the bottom of our hearts, Thank you and God bless!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgement

Table of Contents

Abstract

Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION

Chapter II REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

10

Chapter III RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY

15

12
Chapter IV PRESENTATION AND INTERPRETATION OF DATA

17

Chapter V RESULTS AND CONCLUSION

23

Bibliography

25

ABSTRACT
Superstitious belief has been a part of the lives of many Filipino. It has passed
from generation to generation and until now it does exist. Superstitions affect almost
every part of the lives of people. By studying this, the researchers aimed to know the
impact of the superstitions in the decision making of the students, what are the things
that the students consider in believing. And the main objective is to know how they
act when their health is the main thing affected in believing in these things. This
study includes 50 respondents according to Slovins formula (1960), a quota
sampling was used to obtain the respondents and they were chosen accordingly for
they were fitted on the said study. The data were collected with the use of a survey
form, which is composed of twelve (12) questions which is in connection to their
believe ib superstitions and was tallied and computed by the researchers. In the
survey done of the 50 respondents more than half says that they do believe in
superstitions and family is the major influence in believing in such. And in the
research done, the researchers found out that despite of the educational attainment
and socioeconomic standard of an individual they still chose to believe in
superstitions.

CHAPTER I
Introduction
A. Background of the Study
The phenomena in which people believe in superstitions are very much prevalent and
superstitious beliefs still persist in this age of globalization (George & Sreedhar, 2006). They
are beliefs or practices that are not based on facts or events that can be proven but it based on
myth, magic and irrational thought. Superstitions are also known as old wives' tales, legends,
and traditions. It also arises from irrational beliefs resulting from ignorance or fear of the
unknown. It characterized by obsessive reverence for omens, charms, etc. The validity of
superstitions is based on belief in the power of baffling things such as magic and witchcraft
and in such invisible forces as spirits and demons. One thing binding these meanings together
is that they are usually negative something that may inflict harm on you on way or another.
Superstitions are also defined as belief in irrational, but usually deep-seated belief in the
magical effects of a specific action or ritual, especially in the likelihood that good or bad luck
will result from performing it (Microsoft Encarta 2009).

According to Steiner (1999) Superstition is an integral part of almost every culture


around the world. They have lived long as it can be cultural based; that it came from others and
passed to one another. Superstitions, whether believed by a whole culture or just one person,
still have some sway over people's lives, with or without having any actual power. The sources
which might have been a great source for such superstitions are leaders or governments, elders,
cultures, imaginative stories, scholars and myths. Some popular superstitions are a result of
misinterpreting correlations as causes, although many others are simply urban legends that have
no rational justification. Some of the common superstitions are the fear of Friday the 13th.
Many people feel that it's a day of bad luck. Also consist of things like, the 7 years bad luck that
you receive if you break a mirror, or walking beneath a ladder, will also bring you bad luck. But
superstition can also bring you real luck and one of the popular is, picking up a penny that is
heads up, will bring you good luck. Some of the superstition in the Philippines are like, When
someone sleeps with wet hair, that person may go blind or go crazy; If a person sits on a book,
that person will become stupid or dumb; People with large ears have long life.
In terms of health practices and traditions, the culture of Filipino superstitions has a
plethora of irrational beliefs to offer. Although a lot of people may be apprehensive, scared even,
older generations of Filipinos believe that a dogs lick or licks have healing powers. Hence, they
let dogs lick their wounds. Also, people should never take a bath in the evenings as doing so will
cause them to get anemia or have low blood pressure. Likewise, one should never take a bath on
Good Friday and on New Years Day as doing so will cause sickness to the person. Sore eyes or
pink eyes are believed to be cured by putting some mothers breast milk on it. There is another
Filipino superstitious belief which says that it can also be cured by washing the eyes with the
persons first urine of the day.
These are some common superstition in our country. Many superstitions emerged from
the notions of "good luck" and "bad luck"; the notion of "luck", however, can itself be
considered a form of superstition. It quite irrational and are something beyond the ground of
Science. It creates beliefs that misfortune will always happen if it will not be followed. Despite
the technological advances and continuous progress in the sciences, people still adhere to these
superstitious beliefs and allows these beliefs to influence their daily lives (Jahoda, 1969).

Apart from people believing in different kinds of superstition, the main question which
arises in many minds is that why do certain groups of people believe in one kind of superstition
and the others believe in another. Also what could be the main reason why a particular thing
became a superstition while the others did not? Hence, this research study aims to know the
magnitude of the culture of superstitious beliefs and its influence and effects in the decision
making of WMSU students with regards to their health care practices and traditions.

B. Statement of the problem


This study determines to know the magnitude of the belief of WMSU students to
Filipino superstitions, know whether these beliefs still play a crucial role in the belief pattern of
educated youth its effects on the subjects decision making with regards to health practices and
traditions. Consequently, it aims to resolve the following questions:
a.

What is the effect of Filipino Superstitious beliefs on the decision making of

b.

WMSU students and its influence on their Health care practices?


How does belief in superstitions relate to the socio-economic status of the WMSU

d.

students?
Is there a direct effect on the belief of WMSU students in superstitions with their

e.

respective educational attainment and class standing?


How do beliefs in Cultural Superstitions, such as those specified in this study,
affect the health care practices of the respondents?

C. Significance of the Study

Superstitions are actually rooted in logical behaviors meant to the society, out of mischief
and to adhere to a good way of life. The supernatural elements in some of the sayings can simply
be attributed to lack of education and people's fear of the unknown. Superstitious beliefs have
probably been present among us since the beginning of time and have been passed on through
the centuries, culturally shared and transmitted from generation to generation. Superstitious
rituals or activities are thought to have a positive or negative impact on the events of ones life,
hence, influencing peoples behavior in various ways effecting both ones psychological and
social state.
Superstitious behaviors have been used to reduce anxiety, build confidence, and cope
with uncertainty, giving the illusion of control over reinforcement in an uncontrollable situation.
The purpose of this study was to obtain data about the magnitude of superstitious beliefs and
their effect and influence to the decision making of the WMSU students with regards to their
health care practices and traditions. The study examined the belief and interest of students of
WMSU in superstitions and the impact superstitions have on their health care. The study
explored whether participants perceive happenings and success and/or failure as being of their
own making rather than that of the superstitions. Also, the study includes the precursors of
beliefs in such. The data obtained in this study will enable the researchers and the Western
Mindanao State University Institution and College of Nursing to determine whether beliefs in
superstitions impact the students health care practices and know the need for further information
dissemination to obtain optimum personal health care and lessen, if not eradicate, erroneous
information with regards to superstitious beliefs and health care practices.

D.

Scope and Limitation


The scope of this research is the culture of superstitious beliefs among the WMSU

students, its magnitude and effects & influence in their actions with regards to health care
practices. Moreover, the researchers are endeavored to know if these superstitions really affect
not only their lives and most especially their health.
In this study we conducted some questions for them to answer. There are fifty (50) survey
forms to be disseminated to the students of the Western Mindanao State University Campus A.
8

This study focuses on the answers of the students who received the survey forms and emphasized
not to convince them not to believe nor to believe on the superstitions. This research was
conducted to know if superstitions are affecting their studies or lives as a student, also taking into
consideration external and environmental variables such as socio-economic status, class
standing, educational attainment and religious affiliations.
E.

Definition of terms

Usog or balis - an affliction or psychological disorder is attributed to a greeting by a stranger, or


an evil eye hex. It usually affects an unsuspecting child, usually an infant or toddler, who has
been greeted by a visitor or a stranger.
Pasma - unique to the Filipino culture that is said to be most commonly brought about by
exposure of "cold" and water in many forms: water is believed to facilitate the unhealthy
coldness that enters the body in the Filipino culture.
Paglilihi pregnancy cravings - what you eat and crave for during pregnancy has a direct
influence on the physical attributes of the baby
Albularyo. - faith healer in the Filipino parlance.
Pagpag, - after attending a funeral or burial, you must do pagpag (tapping action) so that the
spirit of the deceased person will not follow you.

CHAPTER II
Review of the Related Literature
Superstition is the belief in supernatural causalitythat one event causes another without
any natural process linking the two eventssuch as astrology, religion, omens, witchcraft,
prophecies, etc., that contradicts natural science. The word superstition is sometimes used to
refer to religious practices (e.g., Voodoo) other than the one prevailing in a given society (e.g.,
Christianity in western culture), although the prevailing religion may contain just as many
superstitious

beliefs. It

is

also

commonly

applied

to

beliefs

and

practices

surrounding luck, prophecy and spiritual beings, particularly the belief that future events can be
foretold by specific (apparently) unrelated prior events.
The word superstition is first used in English in the 15th century, modeled after an earlier
French superstition. While the formation of the Latin word is clear, from the verb super-stare, "to
stand over, stand upon; survive", its original intended sense is less than clear.It can be interpreted
as "standing over a thing in amazement or awe", but other possibilities have been suggested, e.g.
the sense of excess, i.e. over scrupulousness or over-ceremoniousness in the performing of
religious rites, or else the survival of old, irrational religious habits.
Greek and Roman polytheists, who modeled their relations with the gods on political and
social terms, scorned the man who constantly trembled with fear at the thought of the gods, as a
slave feared a cruel and capricious master. Such fear of the gods was what the Romans meant by
"superstition" (Veyne 1987, p. 211).
What is fully accepted as genuine religious statement may be seen as poor superstition
by those who do not share the same faith. Since there are no generally agreed proper or accepted
religious standards among people of different cultural backgrounds, the very notion of what is a
superstitious behavior is relative to local culture. In this sense, Christian theology will interpret
African cults as pure superstition while an evangelical Christian will see as meaningless the
Catholic ritual of crossing oneself (the Sign of the cross) when going by a church. With the
development

of folklore

studies in

the

late
10

18th

century,

use

of

the

derogatory

term superstition was sometimes replaced by the neutral term "folk belief", an attempt to go over
local cultural biases. Both terms remain in use; thus, describing a practice such as the crossing
fingers to nullify a promise as "folk belief" implies a neutral description from the perspective of
ethnology or folklore studies, while calling the same thing a "superstition" implies its rejection as
irrational.
In 1948, behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner published an article in the Journal of
Experimental Psychology, in which he described his pigeons exhibiting what appeared to be
superstitious behavior. One pigeon was making turns in its cage; another would swing its head in
a pendulum motion, while others also displayed a variety of other behaviours. Because these
behaviors were all done ritualistically in an attempt to receive food from a dispenser, even
though the dispenser had already been programmed to release food at set time intervals
regardless of the pigeons' actions, Skinner believed that the pigeons were trying to influence their
feeding schedule by performing these actions. He then extended this as a proposition regarding
the nature of superstitious behavior in humans. Skinner's theory regarding superstition being the
nature of the pigeons' behavior has been challenged by other psychologists such as Staddon and
Simmelhag, who theorized an alternative explanation for the pigeons' behavior.
Despite challenges to Skinner's interpretation of the root of his pigeons'
superstitious behavior, his conception of the reinforcement schedule has been used to explain
superstitious behaviour in humans. Originally, in Skinner's animal research, "some pigeons
responded up to 10,000 times without reinforcement when they had originally been conditioned
on an intermittent reinforcement basis." Compared to the other reinforcement schedules (e.g.,
fixed ratio, fixed interval), these behaviors were also the most resistant to extinction. This is
called the partial reinforcement effect, and this has been used to explain superstitious behavior in
humans. To be more precise, this effect means that, whenever an individual performs an action
expecting reinforcement, and none seems forthcoming, it actually creates a sense of persistence
within the individual. This strongly parallels superstitious behavior in humans because the
individual feels that, by continuing this action, reinforcement will happen; or that reinforcement
has come at certain times in the past as a result of this action, although not all the time, but this
may be one of those times.

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From a simpler perspective, natural selection will tend to reinforce a tendency to


generate weak associations. If there is a strong survival advantage to making correct
associations, then this will outweigh the negatives of making many incorrect, "superstitious"
associations. It has also been argued that there may be connections between OCD and
superstition. This may be connected to hygiene.
Filipinos are very superstitious people. Many Filipinos still cling to the traditional
practices, beliefs and traditions. They are still strongly rooted to the superstitious beliefs that they
believe could help them deal with day to day occurrences and events. This trait was influenced
by the Hindus who have been part of the past colonization of the Philippines. Despite the
computer age that has changed the lifestyles of most Filipinos, many Filipinos still spice their life
To a lot of Filipinos, superstitious beliefs are very crucial in making decisions and
planning an important event. The superstitious beliefs of Filipinos are often consulted especially
during important occasions such as weddings, trips, moving to a new house, opening a business,
finding a job and many more major events in life.
A few examples of Filipino superstitious beliefs are as follows: The phase of the moon is
very important when planning very important events. According to Filipino beliefs, the phase of
the moon is crucial when planning something. Thus, it is better to find a job during the waxing
period of the moon rather than during the waning period. Also, A black cat crossing your path
means bad luck. Many people in the Philippines believe that when a cat crosses their path they
should go back to their house and postpone their plan or errand for the day because pushing with
the plan may produce bad results. To some, the black cat means a warning that something
dangerous maybe waiting to happen. In order to be safe, people prefer to stay at home first. In
Filipino weddings, The bride should never try on the wedding dress. It is believed that if the
bride tries on the wedding dress before the wedding takes place, the wedding will not pursue.
Consequently, Filipinos believes that if a pregnant woman who eat twin bananas will have twin
babies too. Pregnant women are advised not to eat twin bananas if they dont want twin babies.
Unless the woman wants to deliver twin babies then she can eat twin bananas. In addition, You
should not sit on a pillow because it will mean slow recovery from an illness. According to
beliefs, a person who sits on his pillow will undergo a slow recovery process when he gets sick.

12

These are only superstitious beliefs but many Filipinos make these beliefs part of their
day to day life. Whether they are advantageous or disadvantageous depends on how the person
involved sees the situation. The modern age has made many Filipinos changed their lifestyle
including the traditions. Most of the younger generations do not anymore believe in superstitious
beliefs.
Here are some common superstitious beliefs related to health (Fojas, 2010)
o Sleeping after taking a bath during daytime or at night will result in blindness.
o A menstruating woman should not eat sweets lest blood flow stop and cause illness or
o
o

death.
Let a dog lick your wounds, and the wounds will be healed.
Sleeping with wet hair makes one crazy.
When one is wounded during high tide, much blood will ooze out.
After circumcision, a boy should not step on a mortar or pestle; otherwise, his organ will

grow as big as these.


When one is sick with smallpox, he must be given all the things he wishes; otherwise he

will die.
The successive birth of four children of the same sex is believed to endanger the life of

the parent of the same sex.


Children are advised not to bite banana leaves, as this is believed to cause tooth decay.
One should not eat mollusks when he has wounds, otherwise, his wounds will grow big.
A sick person is always believed to grow worse when the moon is full. If the patient does
not recover before one lunar month has elapsed and the moon once more assumes this
phase, the case is considered hopeless.Taking a bath at night will cause anemia or low

blood pressure.
Taking a bath on New Years Day and/or Good Friday will cause one to get sick.
If the family is eating and a member arrives, he is not permitted to join the others in the
meal, for if this rule is violated and a member of the household becomes ill, the others

may become ill too.


Menstruating girls should not eat papaya to avoid whitish blood, nor liver or blood, as
they will cause a strong flow. Moreover, Asthma can be cured by putting a cat near the
throat and the chest and at the same time reciting a prayer.Sore eyes can be cured by

washing the eyes with the first urine early in the morning.
A child who plays with fallen unripe coconuts will suffer body swelling.

13

Philippine beliefs and superstition have grown in number throughout the various regions
and provinces in the country. These beliefs have come from the different saying and
superstitions of our ancestors that aim to prevent danger from happening or to make a person
refrain from doing something in particular. These beliefs are part of our culture, for one
derives their beliefs from the influences of what their customs, traditions and culture have
dictated to explain certain phenomena or to put a scare in people. Some are practiced
primarily because Filipinos believe that there is nothing to lose if they will comply with these
beliefs. The following are some of the different superstitions in the Philippines.

Chapter III
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Research Design and Methodology


A. Research Design
This study was done in accordance to the descriptive-analytic method of research. In this
study, researchers endeavored to describe and reflect the views of the respondents with regards
to their Superstitious beliefs and how it affects their health practices and traditions. The
researchers have used Sample surveys to materialize the study. The surveys used in this study
covers diverse queries in connection to the culture of Filipino Superstitions and its effect to the
health practices and traditions of the students of the Western Mindanao State University.
B. Respondents
This study determines to know the magnitude of the belief of WMSU students to
Filipino superstitions and its effects on the subjects decision making with regards to health
practices and traditions. According to Slovins formula (1960), fifty respondents (50) or subjects
will be needed in this study. The researchers used quota sampling to obtain respondents for this
study. The gathered respondents for this study were Fifty (50) students from the Western
Mindanao State University Campus A. The respondents were selected accordingly as they were
fitted to be the focus of this study.

C. Research Instrument
The method done to gather information from subjects was through survey. The
researchers have prepared twelve (12) questions to express the idea, views and personal
opinions of the subjects to the matter being studied. A survey questionnaire that aims to gather
data was created by the researchers in order to know the effects of the belief in superstitions to
the decision making of the subjects with regards to health practices and its correlation to some
personal and environmental variables such as socio-economic background, educational
attainment and distinctive community and religious links.
15

The questions in this study was answered through checking the box that corresponds to
yes (if the answer is yes) and checking the box that corresponds to no (if the answer is no).
Moreover, there are questions that requires the personal information of the client (name is
optional) and personal views should be cited by the client through a short sentence or phrase in
order for the researches to know the effect of Filipino superstitions to the health practices and
traditions of the students of the Western Mindanao State University.
D. Treatment of the Data

This study was materialized and constructed by the researches in a short period of time
only. To further the analyzing of the data, the information gathered in this study was
congregated by the researches through survey, tallying and presenting the data gathered in
charts.

CHAPTER IV
Presentation and Interpretation of Data
In the progression of the survey, the researchers were able to gather 50 respondents
from the Western Mindanao State University Campus A through quota sampling. Presentations
of the data gathered are as follows:

I. Personal Profile

16

Males
Female
LGBT

17
30
3

17

Distribution of the respondent's genders

Males

Female

LGBT

The majority of the respondents in this study were females followed by males and a
few from the LGBT community.

Distribution of the respondents objective class standing

18

Poor

Ssatisfactory

Very Satisfactory

Excellent

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

Among the fifty student respondents of this study, 34 of them answered they received
satisfactory (Most grades are 2.5-2.75) remarks, followed by 11 students who answered they
received very satisfactory (Most grades are 1.75-2.0) grades, next with 4 students with Poor
(Most grades are 3.0 and lower) remarks and lastly, 1 student answered to be recipient of
grades between 1.0 1.5 or excellent.

19

Distribution of Respondents Engaging in Extrcurricular Activities

Yes
No

Yes
No

15
35

Distribution of the monthly family income of the respondents

20

5,000 below

5,000-9,000

10,000 - 24,000

25,000-49,000

50,000 and above


0

II.

10

Survey Form

21

15

20

25

Distribution of respondents who believe in Superstitions

Yes
No

30
20

In the survey form, the researchers included the question Do you believe in
Superstitions? and among the fifty respondents, thirty students checked Yes and on the other
hand, 20 students checked No.

Distribution of belief influence

22

Media
Culture
Hearsay
Neighbor
School
Peers
Friends
Family
0

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

In the chart, it is evident that the main source and foundation for the belief of
superstitions is the family, seconded by friends and culture, third is neighbor/community, 4th is
Media and peers, while tied on the last are Hearsay and School.

Distribution of respondents in the production of a tangible end result in their beliefs

Yes
No

32
18

23

Distribution of respondents who believe that superstitions can help in the progression of Nursing Practice in the Philipines

Yes
No

20
30

Distribution of respondents who believe that Superstitions affect their lifestyle and health practices

Yes
No

27
23
24

CHAPTER V
Results and Conclusion

Superstition has its own place in every nation and ethnicity. Even, today, that we can
predict most of the events and happenings, and look into them from a scientific point of view,
there are still some people who believe in the superstitious beliefs remaining from their ancestors
and transfer these beliefs using the process of cultural acceptance and socialization to their
children. For this purpose, the true understanding of this issue can be very useful for the process
of socialization.
In this study conducted by the researchers titled The Culture of Filipino Superstitious
beliefs and its influence in the health themes of WMSU students, it was found out that belief in
superstitions is prevalent and present in the Western Mindanao State University. In the survey
questionnaires, the researcher found out the diversity and variation of reasons as to why the
respondents have this distinct belief ranging from influences within the family and community to
stimulus from peer groups and media. Also, according to our gathered information, more than
half of the subjects responded that belief in superstitions has affected their lifestyle and health
practices one way or another. This can be seen more in women with their health practices
regarding women issues that encompasses hygiene and self-care routine during their menstrual
period, and in men in their hygiene practices as well.
In this study, the researchers found out that despite the educational attainment of the
respondents and their involvement in extra-curricular activities, they believed in superstitions
and which is being reflected in their lifestyle and health practices. The majority of the
respondents in this study have an objective class standing of Satisfactory (Most grades are 2.52.75) which implies that students with lower grades are more prone to the belief of superstitions.
The root of the superstition is the ignorance and the lack of knowledge in the human being. The
mind of the ignorant and less educated people does not have enough ability to analyze the
encountered problems and usually these people are looking for the easiest way, which is not
25

necessarily the most accurate solution, to solve the problems. Superstitions are among these
solutions. Therefore, as the knowledge and the education of the people in the society increase,
their tendency to superstition and help from such solution decreases.
Furthermore, the majority of the respondents in this study are individuals coming from
families with an average monthly income of 10,000 -24,000 pesos and below. One of the indexes
of the public welfare is high income level for the people of the society. The findings of this study
revealed that people with a higher income are less inclined to the superstitions than people with
lower incomes. However, when asked if any of the superstitions will help in the progression of
the Nursing practice in the Philippines, they answered No. This simply implies that Filipino
recipients do not want to rely on superstitions for their nursing care.
The results of this study showed that those individuals who arent at the level of
satisfaction with their lives are more inclined to the notion of luck , and they seek help in the
notion of luck, and they do not know that this supposed help is but a faade of false mirage and
phantasm. The more an individual feel low and helpless, the more he/she will be inclined to the
notion of luck and beliefs in superstitions.
The information gained from this study is a significant statistic that can be used to
promote the rational action and the deletion of the emotional and traditional action as much as
possible in the social domains within the university. Moreover, it is an eye-opener to the WMSU
family in the need to improve the students knowledge level with the promotion of study and
participation in scientific and research activities.

Bibliography
26

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Sta. RomanaCruz, Neni. Dont Take a Bath on a Friday: Philippine Superstitions and

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Vyse, Stuart A (2000). Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. Oxford,

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Benedictus de Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, namely the preface.
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Skinner, B. F. (1948). "'Superstition' in the Pigeon". Journal of Experimental Psychology

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Fojas, Felix (2010) Superstitious beliefs of Filipinos Wordpress.

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