If you have been by Davis Hall recently, you may have been approached by a friendly black cat. Although the cat has received an abundance of positive attention from students — and deservingly so — one’s first thought upon seeing her may not be as positive.
With Halloween just around the corner, spotting a black cat on campus can tap into our superstitions.
Due to relentless allergies, I normally try to stay as far away from cats as possible, but this cat was not really giving me an option.
I was sitting on a bench outside of Davis when she came and sat at my feet. I got a stare-down until I finally pet her, to which she responded by rolling over and jumping up next to me.
Naturally, I was enchanted. I have little experience with cats, and I was certainly slow to believe that a black cat would be so friendly. The encounter had me questioning why black cats would so broadly be considered unlucky.
Superstition has roots in human behavior and culture, functioning as a way to reduce anxiety. Research has been done on the psychology of this behavior.
According to Fatik Mandal in the International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, superstitions give us, “a false sense of having control over outer conditions.”
Clearly, superstitions can work as a crutch. When we begin to rely on external factors for “good luck” or avoid them to prevent “bad luck” we stave away from actually controlling our situation in productive ways.
Sometimes, however, superstition can work as a medium with which to bond over as well, especially if it allows people to be “insiders.”
Even on campus, the “F door” entrance to the library corridor was to be avoided before exams (the sign has since been removed, but it’s still the F door). If not taken seriously, they can be fun to reference or call out.
When superstition begins to frame the way we approach our lives, we cede control over our situation despite trying to retain it.
It’s a shame that black cats hold negative connotations, because the one outside of Davis is just darling.