Insurance, risk, and magical thinking

Orit E. Tykocinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The possession of an insurance policy may not only affect the severity of a potential loss but also its perceived probability. Intuitively, people may feel that if they are insured nothing bad is likely to happen, but if they do not have insurance they are at greater peril. In Experiment 1, respondents who were reminded of their medical insurance felt they were less likely to suffer health problems in the future compared to people who were not reminded of their medical insurance. In Experiment 2a, participants who were unable to purchase travel insurance judged the probability of travel-related calamities higher compared to those who were insured. These results were replicated in Experiment 3a in a simulation of car accident insurance. The findings are explained in terms of intuitive magical thinking, specifically, the negative affective consequences of "tempting fate" and the sense of safety afforded by the notion of "being covered."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1346-1356
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Insurance
  • Intuition
  • Magic
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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