Sydney: We often delude ourselves into believing that we can control circumstances and events to our advantage. This 'illusion of control' can bolster our luck. For instance, when a player wears his favourite sports jersey and his team wins, he considers the jersey lucky, even though there is no correlation between the two.

This illusion of control 'can help motivate people and make them feel optimistic in certain situations, but it can also lead people into having unrealistic expectations', says study author Shruti Venkatesh of University of New South Wales.

'Likewise, a gambler who... gets repeated payouts from a poker machine while playing at the same time of day may come to believe that he can influence the machine by playing again at that time,' adds Venkatesh.

The illusion of control hinges on individual response to a situation and the outcome occurs frequently, according to a New South Wales statement.

'It's a fascinating phenomenon and it works even in experimental situations when we tell people that the outcome of a process is random and beyond their control, they still develop the illusion.'

Depressed people seem less likely to develop an illusion of control because they take a more realistic view of events, but the study found no support for that idea.

It turns out that people with depression are just as likely as non-depressed people to develop an illusion of control. 'Our key finding is that the illusion of control is strong, robust effect,' she says.

Venkatesh, a postgraduate research student, is working with psychology associate professors Michelle Moulds from New South Wales and Chris Mitchell of the University of Plymouth.

(Agencies)