Today is the day that a paraskevidekatriaphobic fears the most: Friday the 13th. (Paraskevidekatriaphobia, for those who don't know, is the fear of Friday the 13th).
As irrational as it might seem to be superstitious on a particular day just because of it's date, research shows that paraskevidekatriaphobia has real consequences:
Businesses lose up to $800 million on Friday the 13th because of the belief that think it is an unlucky day to travel or go to work.
Paraskevidekatriaphobia affects as many as 21 million people.
Results of a study published in the British Medical Journal in 1993 found that ... "Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%. Staying at home is recommended."
The specific origins of paraskevidekatriaphobia are varied. Some believe the fear stems from two separate fears - the fear of the number 13 and the fear of Fridays, which both have their roots in Christian theology; thirteen is the number of people who were present at the Last Supper and Judas, who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th member of the party to arrive. And Friday was the day on which Jesus was crucified.
Others believe the superstion has its roots in anti-paganism. Whatever the origin, paraskevidekatriaphobia impacts people -- and businesses -- around the world.
Of paraskevidekatriaphobians, Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, England, was quoted in this National Geographic article, as saying "Their beliefs and behavior are likely to be part of a much bigger worldview. They will believe that luck is a magical force and that it can ruin their lives."
But certainly this irrational behavior -- the fear of a date just because it lands on a specific day of the month -- and it's lucky or unlucky effect doesn't affect educated, sophisticated business professionals, right?
Think again! According to this AMEX OpenForum article, some small business owners not only tend to be superstitious on Friday the 13th, they use it to their advantage: "Superstitions enable them to cling to what has worked before with high hopes that it can work again. It also provides that additional boost of confidence and comfort that can make a difference in being successful."
How about you? Do you change the way you approach your business, just because it's Friday the 13th?