Anxiety, Cognitive Availability, and the Talisman Effect of Insurance

Robert M. Schindler, Mathew S. Isaac, Eric Dolansky, Grant C. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Across four experiments (N = 1,923), this research provides converging evidence of a talisman effect of insurance—consumers who have an insurance policy feel that the covered mishap is less likely to occur. Although such an effect has previously been proposed, empirical evidence for it is limited, in part because the talisman effect has often been conflated with a related but distinct magical-thinking phenomenon, the tempting-fate effect. By disentangling these two effects, we are better able to isolate the talisman effect and show that it is a robust phenomenon in its own right. We also provide support for a mechanism underlying the talisman effect: Insurance reduces anxiety and repetitious thoughts related to the mishap; with fewer thoughts about the mishap, its cognitive availability is lower and so it seems less likely to occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)642-656
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


  • anxiety
  • availability
  • insurance
  • magical thinking
  • tempting fate


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