Four out of ten people are so superstitious they avoid cracks in the pavement or dodge ladders, a study found today.
Research revealed more than 14 million adults regularly carry out everyday tasks they believe will bring them luck – or ward off bad luck.
A third of wary adults said they believe putting up an umbrella in the house is lucky while one in six steer clear of passing someone on the stairs.
The study also found four out of ten regularly touch wood and a similar number would never walk under a ladder.
The poll of 3,000 people was carried out by horse racing body Racing for Change, to mark the launch of their www.lovetheraces.com website.
Yesterday a spokesman said: ”Most people have some superstitious tendencies and are plagued by a fear of what may happen if they don’t carry out their ritual.
”Crossing fingers and making wishes when blowing out candles seem like every day habits now rather than superstitions but avoiding black cats and magpies seem quite old fashioned now.
”We also found many people still fear crossing paths on the stairs, spilling salt or opening umbrellas in the house,
”It may not make any difference at all but we can’t help ‘touching wood’ to avoid tempting fate, chucking salt over our left shoulder or saying ‘white rabbit’ on the first of the month.
”It at least gives us the peace of mind, but superstitions determine the actions of millions of Brits on a daily basis.”
The study also found one in three people regularly cross their fingers while almost half expect to receive seven years bad luck if they break a mirror.
One in twenty adults won’t walk on cracks in the pavement.
Interestingly, six in ten said they knew superstitions were unlikely to come to anything, but carried them out anyway ‘just in case’.
Other superstitious actions include wearing lucky socks or pants, avoiding walking across three drains and saying ‘pinch punch, first day of the month’.
The poll also revealed 32 per cent of Brits think it is lucky to find a four-leaf clover while 28 per cent think it is lucky to pick up a penny.
Other ‘lucky superstitions’ include wishing on a shooting star (16 per cent) and saluting a lone magpie (21 per cent).
One in six reckon they’re in luck if they meet a black cat.
Walking under a ladder and breaking a mirror emerged as the most believable superstitions along with a lone magpie threatening future happiness.
The report found superstition isn’t limited just to everyday life.
One in six polled said they rely on lucky rituals when betting on a horse, with one in twenty having bagged more than #1,000 after backing a winner.
A quarter will watch from a lucky chair, three in ten will only bet on a certain race and 28 per cent will choose a name of a horse which is funny.
The spokesman for Racing for Change added: ”Regular race goers have some very unique lucky rituals, like always betting on a horse whose name begins with a certain letter or only betting on a jockey who star sign is Libra for example.
”Race-goers are a particularly superstitious bunch who tend to carry good luck charms, queue at particular Tote windows or back horses or jockeys with certain names, numbers or colours.
”But surprisingly, Friday the 13th seems to be no barrier to having a flutter. In fact, betting turnover tends to be higher on these days.”
TOP TEN SUPERSTITIONS
1. Won’t walk under a ladder
2. Salute a lone magpie
3. Throw spilt salt over your left shoulder
4. Put money in a purse or wallet
5. Don’t step on cracks in the pavement
6. Avoid crossing people on the stairs
7. Won’t put an umbrella up in the house
8. Won’t walk across three drains
9. Won’t put shoes on the table
10. Say ‘pinch punch first day of the month’ on the first day of the month