Hunting for Coincidence in the Brain and Mind
“To be totally ‘unmagical’ is very unhealthy,” says Peter Brugger, head of neuropsychology at University Hospital Zurich. Every healthy human being displays a certain amount of irrational, sometimes superstitious behavior. This may range from rejecting the concept of coincidence to ritual behaviors such as those displayed by sportsmen and women before a game.
On the other hand, excessive “magical thinking” is an indicator of psychosis-proneness, as Brugger and his team have shown in their research, in which they compared self-proclaimed “spiritually gifted” people with ordinary “unbelievers”. Their experiments revealed that dopamine levels in the brain affect the capacity for “magical thinking”. People with higher levels of this neurotransmitter in their brains will more readily see links between coincidental occurrences.