How Does Friday the 13th Affect Your Decisions?


Many of us merely note that tomorrow is Friday the 13th and will go on with our daily doings.

But some people are so paralyzed by fear of the day that they do not venture outside their homes. Others will avoid making major financial or life decisions. They might, for example, avoid Friday the 13th when planning a wedding or buying a car. Others will steel themselves and get through the day, albeit a bit nervously.

If you’re superstitious, Friday the 13th packs a powerful punch, combining an unlucky day with an unlucky number. The superstition has its roots in Christianity and is deeply embedded in Western culture.

Tempting fate

You might honor superstitions even if you don’t believe in them. That’s because you may feel you’re tempting fate if you don’t.

As a result, many people won’t initiate any serious actions on Friday the 13th, says Scott Bea, PsyD, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic.

“They start avoiding,” Dr. Bea says. “They don’t go to work. They don’t go spend money. They don’t make major decisions. They won’t buy a house. They won’t get married. They won’t go out to eat.”

Surprisingly, there’s a price tag for all this avoidance, Dr. Bea says.

“It ends up costing our culture an estimated $800 million to $900 million every time we have a Friday the 13th,” Dr. Bea says.

Clue to handling stress

How someone handles this type of fear could offer a clue about how they handle other stressful situations, Dr. Bea says.

“These sorts of people may be a little more anxious than the average person,” Dr. Bea says. “It also suggests what they do when they are anxious. I think people who are concerned about a day specifically, or a number specifically, might be anxious about other things and then be much more prone to avoid things that make them anxious.”

On the other hand, if you consider Friday the 13th or the number 13 lucky, you’re probably more of a risk-taker or thrill-seeker and tend to trust in yourself rather than superstition, Dr. Bea says.