Nostalgia and Astrometry as Precursors of Superstitious Beliefs: An Abstract
Many people espouse superstition, whether individually (e.g., wearing a lucky charm) or collectively (e.g., applying feng shui to the home) as a means for generating favorable life outcomes. Although psychologists acknowledge the value of studying superstition at the personal level (Marques, Leite, & Benvenuti, 2012), marketing scholars have yet to account fully for the antecedents of consumers’ superstitious attitudes and concomitant behaviors (e.g., Fluke, Webster, & Saucier, 2014); this inchoate understanding compromises the efforts of marketing theoreticians, marketing practitioners, and public-policy makers.
Drawing from prior research on nostalgia (Sierra & McQuitty, 2007), astrometry (Mitchell, 1995), and superstition (Mowen & Carlson, 2003), this study employs experiential consumption theory (Holbrook & Hirschman, 1982) and magical thinking (Zusne & Jones, 1989) to create a model of superstitious beliefs. Informed by the noted streams of research, yearning for the past (YernPST), horoscope importance (HoroIMP), and self-assessed zodiac sign expertise (ZodEXP) are posited as determinants of superstitious beliefs (SUPER). To test this model, questionnaire data collected from students enrolled in marketing courses at a south-western US university were analyzed. The mean age of respondents (N = 218) is 22.32 (SD = 2.53), with gender split evenly. Whites (71%), Hispanics (18%), and Blacks (8%) are most represented, with seniors (59%) and juniors (27%) dominating the sample.
Maximum likelihood factor analysis with oblique rotation was used to confirm data structure. Cronbach’s alpha for the four construct-related scales ranges from 0.856 to 0.939. With robust factor loadings and non-substantial cross-loadings, the resulting four-factor solution accounts for 72.87 percent of the variance. These data collectively reflect valid construct measures. Using regression analysis, results indicate a significant model (Adj. R2 = 0.314, F = 33.67, P < 0.01) and support the three paths evaluated at the P < 0.01 level; that is, YernPST (H1; β = 0.269, t = 4.69), HoroIMP (H2; β = 0.286, t = 3.69), and ZodEXP (H3; β = 0.214, t = 2.75) relate positively to SUPER.
The posited model assumes superstitious beliefs are positively influenced by a mix of nostalgic and astrological factors, such as yearning for the past and horoscope importance. Understanding antecedents that explain meaningful variance in consumers’ superstitions can prove valuable to scholars seeking to expand theoretical knowledge and practitioners wanting to grow their brand’s value. The posited model is consistent with consumers’ magical thinking, where fantasy and reality are amalgamated (James, Handelman, & Taylor, 2011).