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May 14, 2015

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Astrology not so off the mark about personality types, study claims

May 14, 2015
Courtesy of the University of Connecticut
and World Science staff

Peo­ple’s per­son­al­i­ties tend to vary some­what de­pend­ing on the sea­son of their birth—and as­tro­lo­g­i­cal signs may have de­vel­oped as a use­ful sys­tem for re­mem­ber­ing these pat­terns, a new anal­y­sis claims.

The ef­fects may not be clear in in­di­vid­u­als, but can be dis­cerned through av­er­ag­ing per­son­al­ity traits across large groups, said Uni­vers­ity of Con­nect­i­cut so­cial sci­ent­ist Mark Ham­il­ton, au­thor of the stu­dy.

“Psy­chol­o­gists want to dis­miss these as­tro­lo­g­i­cal cor­rela­t­ions, but there are sea­sonal­ity ef­fects that we have yet to ex­plain,” said Ham­il­ton, whose find­ings were pub­lished in the jour­nal Com­pre­hen­sive Psy­chol­o­gy on May 13. But Ham­il­ton does­n’t buy in­to as­tro­lo­g­i­cal ideas about how heav­enly bod­ies sup­posedly cause the ef­fects.

Psy­chol­o­gists have known that cer­tain per­son­al­ity traits tend to be as­so­ci­at­ed with cer­tain birth months, he added. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple born in Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary tend to be more cre­a­tive, and have a high­er chance of be­ing di­ag­nosed with schiz­o­phre­nia, than peo­ple born at oth­er times. And peo­ple born in odd-numbered months tend to be more ex­tro­verted than those born in even-numbered months.

Tra­di­tion­al West­ern as­trol­o­gy de­scribes and cat­e­go­rizes these ef­fects us­ing four so-called “ele­ments”—wa­ter, earth, air and fire, Ham­il­ton not­ed. As­trol­o­gy al­so posits that signs have a char­ac­ter­is­tic known as du­al­ity, un­der which they can be “bright” or “dark.” It fur­ther takes in­to ac­count sign “qual­ity,” in which signs can be “car­di­nal,” “mutable” or “fixed.”

As­trologers con­sid­er late De­cem­ber through early March as a “wet” time, and con­nect wet­ness with cre­ati­vity, for ex­am­ple. “Fixed” signs are said to be more stub­born and per­sist­ent than oth­ers.

Ham­il­ton looked at a da­ta set of 300 celebr­i­ties from the fields of pol­i­tics, sci­ence, pub­lic serv­ice, lit­er­a­ture, the arts and sports. He found that celebr­i­ties’ birth dates tended to clus­ter at cer­tain times of the year. “Wet” signs were as­so­ci­at­ed with more celebr­i­ties, as were signs clas­si­fied as “bright” and “fixed.”

Ham­il­ton is work­ing with oth­er re­search­ers on an anal­y­sis of 85,000 celebr­i­ties dat­ing from 3,000 B.C.E to the pre­s­ent. He said the sea­sonal­ity ef­fect on celebr­ity ap­pears to hold true even in this large set stretch­ing across mil­len­nia and cul­tures.


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People’s personalities tend to vary somewhat depending on the season of their birth—and astrological signs may have developed as a useful system for remembering these patterns, a new analysis claims. The effects may not be clear in individuals, but can be discerned through averaging personality traits across large groups, said University of Connecticut social scientist Mark Hamilton, author of the study. “Psychologists want to dismiss these astrological correlations, but there are seasonality effects that we have yet to explain,” said Hamilton, whose findings were published in the journal Comprehensive Psychology on May 13. But Hamilton doesn’t buy into astrological ideas about how heavenly bodies supposedly cause the effects. Psychologists have known that certain personality traits tend to be associated with certain birth months, he added. For example, people born in January and February tend to be more creative, and have a higher chance of being diagnosed with schizophrenia, than people born at other times. And people born in odd-numbered months tend to be more extroverted than those born in even-numbered months. Traditional Western astrology describes and categorizes these effects using four so-called “elements” (water, earth, air and fire), Hamilton noted. Astrology also posits that signs have a characteristic known as duality, under which they can be “bright” or “dark.” It further takes into account sign “quality,” in which signs can be “cardinal,” “mutable” or “fixed.” Astrologers consider late December through early March as a “wet” time, and connect wetness with creativity, for example. “Fixed” signs are said to be more stubborn and persistent than others. Hamilton looked at a data set of 300 celebrities from the fields of politics, science, public service, literature, the arts and sports. He found that celebrities’ birth dates tended to cluster at certain times of the year. “Wet” signs were associated with more celebrities, as were signs classified as “bright” and “fixed.” Hamilton is working with other researchers on an analysis of 85,000 celebrities dating from 3,000 B.C.E to the present. He said the seasonality effect on celebrity appears to hold true even in this large set stretching across millennia and cultures.