The psychology and philosophy of luck

Duncan Pritchard*, Matthew Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


There has been a great deal of interest in the concept of luck in the recent psychological and philosophical literature. In philosophy, this interest has tended to focus not upon luck simpliciter but rather upon the role that luck plays in ethical and epistemological debates concerning (respectively) moral and epistemic luck. In psychology, in contrast, a number of studies have explicitly examined our everyday conceptions of luck and the manner in which these conceptions influence our lives. This article surveys both the recent psychological and philosophical literature on this topic and argues that (to different degrees) the work of both disciplines in this area has been hampered by a failure to be clearer about what luck involves. Accordingly, this article offers a specification of what is core to the notion of luck and highlights how this analysis can aid further research in this area by both psychologists and philosophers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Causal attribution
  • Chance
  • Counterfactual thinking
  • Fortune
  • Illusion of control
  • Luck


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