“Lucky girl syndrome” is a trend going on TikTok, a new technique for manifesting one’s aspirations that has gone viral. The so-called may sound like a desirable situation, but the psychology behind it is flimsy at best and misleading at worst.
According to proponents of the trend, to be a “fortunate girl,” you must declare yourself to be lucky, affluent, and a magnet for good things. User iambrifields(opens in new tab) repeats the affirmation in one TikTok video(opens in new tab) “Everything I desire and require is currently on its way to me.
I am ready to accept.” The trend isn’t restricted to TikTok; Instagram user hothighpriestess(opens in new tab) shared a reel in which she says, “I am strong and in command of my circumstances. I attract everything good in the universe. I am in a condition of everlasting delight.”
As Vox writer Rebecca Jennings recently pointed out, the concept is similar to “the law of attraction” and other theories contained in Rhonda Byrne’s renowned self-help book “The Secret” (Simon & Schuster, 2006).
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Similarly, lucky girl syndrome pushes individuals to repeat mantras such as “Things are always working out for me, no matter how it looks at any point in time” and “I will attract everything I desire.”
Robert West a psychologist and emeritus professor of behavioral science and health at University College London in the U.K., told Live Science that this technique has been used many times previously.
West said the “fortunate girl syndrome” is the latest in a long history of magical thinking that humans find so captivating. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines magical thinking as “the notion that one’s ideas, thoughts, deeds, words or usage of symbols can influence the course of events in the tangible world.”
West said a cheerful mindset isn’t harmful. “But that is different. The problem of believing that we can achieve things only by envisioning them is that it really hinders us from doing the things that might make our lives and others better,” he said.
Lucky girl syndrome can cause people to procrastinate and make bad decisions because they think everything will work out. The concept may promote “positive illusion,” described by the APA as “a belief about oneself that is pleasant or positive and that is kept regardless of its truth.”
A 2015 Frontiers in Psychology review lists unreasonable optimism and overconfidence as hazards of positive illusions. The review examined how this bias would affect high-stakes decision-making and how the perception of control can harm. The authors believe that the positive perception of a higher chance of winning may lead to reckless gambling.
If a gambler wins, they may credit magical thinking.
A 2017 Consciousness and Cognition research named “causal illusion” is the brain’s tendency to see patterns and link unrelated events. If a pattern exists, pattern recognition can help you grow a plant in the ideal conditions. A 2020 British Journal of Psychology paper(opens in new tab) argues that causal illusion makes people more prone to trust pseudoscientific beliefs like the lucky girl phenomenon.
“Learned optimism” is similar to lucky girl syndrome, according to University College London professor Leslie Gutman(opens in new tab).
Gutman noted that optimistic people are more goal-oriented and motivated than pessimists, which can lead to job success. “What is crucial, however, is those who consider themselves ‘fortunate’ do not ascribe their success to luck but acknowledge that their hard work plays a major role,” she said. “When successful, women are just lucky, which downplays their ability and hard work,” she said.
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Social privilege makes learned optimism easier because things frequently go smoothly. Poor populations often have learned helplessness. A 2014 article in Clinical Psychological Science(opens in new tab) reveals that childhood poverty has long-term mental health repercussions and increases the risk of learned helplessness later in life.
Thus, optimism and self-esteem can help us achieve our goals, but we must avoid magical thinking and positive illusions. Experts advise developing your own skills rather than relying on manifestation.