It doesn't matter how logical and rational we usually are when it comes to money; when we play the lottery, all sensible thought seems to go out of the window.
We know the whole thing is based on chance, and incredibly long odds, and yet a new study has revealed that we perform all kinds of 'rituals' when we buy a lottery ticket - in order to 'bring luck'.
The study, by Jackpot.com found that some people rub a lucky item while they are buying a ticket, others tap or clap a number of times - in a specific order, and others do a special dance.
The researchers found people who had used lucky rituals and won. They then matched each odd practice to the people who had scored the biggest wins - in order to find the 'luckiest' rituals.
1. Doing a special dance = average win of £25,501
2. Tapping/clapping/clicking body part(s) a certain number of times/sequence = average win of £17,705
3. Saying "white rabbit" before getting out of bed on 1st of month = average win of £948
4. Having a model elephant (e.g. Ganesh) = average win of £737
5. Throwing salt over your shoulder = average win of £648
6. Hanging up a horseshoe = average win of £617
7. Rubbing a lucky item = average win of £617
8. Having a black cat cross your path = average win of £552
9. Making a wish on a wishbone = average win of £546
10. Using a lucky number = average win of £518
Their somewhat unexpected conclusion was that we're doing the wrong rituals - because the most popular ones - including winners and non-winners - are touching wood, picking up a penny, and throwing salt over their shoulder.
What's really lucky?
Of course, when we take a rational approach, we know this is all nonsense. The way the draw is designed, every number has an exactly equal chance of being picked - every time. It doesn't matter whether you put on a show of fantastic lucky lottery dances all day, it won't make the slightest bit of difference.
As we have reported before, the best way to play the lottery is to buy a lucky dip. That way you avoid all the conscious and unconscious biases involved in choosing numbers of your own. You therefore stand a better chance of picking numbers that aren't enormously popular, so in the very unlikely event that you win, you shouldn't have to share with too many people.
Of course, even then, the most likely outcome for every lottery player is that they lose - and walk away with nothing. So perhaps the best lucky ritual of all is to walk away from the shop without buying a ticket. You can always go and play the free postcode lottery instead.