The Lucky Factor

Topics: Luck, Chance, Superstition Pages: 18 (5382 words) Published: October 17, 2010
by Dr. richard Wiseman

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This material is produced by MaxPitch Media, Inc. in partnership with Miramax Books and Dr. Richard Wiseman (author of The Luck Factor). Dr. Wiseman can be reached through his website,

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the power of luck

Abridged from The Luck Factor by Dr. Richard Wiseman

luck exerts a dramatic influence over

our lives. A few seconds of bad fortune can unravel years of striving, while a moment of good luck can lead to success and happiness. Luck has the power to transform the improbable into the possible; to make the difference between life and death, reward and ruin, happiness and despair. Psychologists have studied how our lives are affected by our intelligence, personality, genes, appearance, and upbringing. Measuring intelligence and categorizing people’s personalities is relatively straightforward, but how do you quantify luck and control chance? I began by carrying out a survey to discover the percentage of people who considered themselves lucky or unlucky, and whether people’s luck tended to be concentrated in one or two areas of their lives or spread across many different areas.


With a group of students, I visited the center of London at different times over the course of a week and asked a large number of randomly chosen shoppers about the role of luck in their lives. The survey revealed that 50 percent of people indicated they had been consistently lucky and 14 percent said they had been consistently unlucky. There was a very strong tendency for people who said they had been lucky in one area of their lives to indicate they had also been lucky in several others. The same was true for unlucky people. There were too many people consistently experiencing good and bad luck for it all to be chance. Instead,

there must be something causing things to work out consistently well for some people and consistently badly for others. I conducted scientific research with a group of 400 exceptionally lucky and unlucky people from all walks of life. The youngest was an eighteen-year-old student, the oldest was an eighty-four-year-old retired accountant. I conducted lengthy interviews with many of them and asked others to keep diaries. Some were invited to my laboratory to take part in experiments, and others completed complicated psychological questionnaires. This research revealed four main differences between the lives of lucky and unlucky people:

Lucky people consistently encounter chance opportunities and meet people who have a very beneficial effect on their lives. In contrast, unlucky people rarely have these sorts of experiences, or they meet people who have a negative effect on their lives.

Lucky people make good decisions without knowing why. Unlucky people’s decisions tend to result in failure and despair.

Lucky people’s dreams, ambitions, and goals have an uncanny knack of coming true. Unlucky people are the exact opposite.

Lucky people have an ability to turn their bad luck into good fortune. Unlucky people lack this ability and their bad luck causes nothing but upset and ruin.



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