In early , a strategic business decision was made by the board members to begin conducting metaphysical research studies, in an attempt to broaden the scope of the institute. I was part of a research committee that included a licensed psychiatrist and clinical social worker that first drafted the idea of collecting data from personality assessment instruments and comparing it to the natal chart. The goal of this research was to explore the validity of astrology and potentially publish articles based on that research.
I had a strong personal investment in conducting astrology research because of my background as an astrologer. We began soliciting participants by placing a notice in the CIOS monthly newsletter for 3 consecutive months in the fall and early winter , requesting noncompensated volunteers who would be willing to "complete selected personality assessment questionnaires for use in a research project that will be looking for relationships between these types of assessments and the astrology horoscope.
The CIOS research committee initially chose those four assessments as an assessment battery to capture a broad range of personality traits. In , after 92 participants had completed the initial battery of assessments, the MMPI-2 was removed from this study after the committee decided that the clinical nature of the assessment instrument did not reflect our research interests. When the participants completed the assessments, they were informed that it would take some time for their assessment results to be scored, but in the meantime the assessments would remain secure in a locked filing cabinet at the CIOS offices and that they would be provided feedback when the final assessments were scored.
Participants were informed that their assessment results would remain secure and that they would eventually be provided feedback when they were scored. However, the project stalled as other members of the research committee had competing projects and I had become very busy in my doctoral studies in clinical psychology.
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None of us had the time to dedicate to the research project and the data remained unused and unanalyzed. We sent out an email to the volunteers and apologized for the delay, informing them that the assessments would eventually be scored, but in the meantime, they would be archived. Unfortunately, the economic events leading up to the global recession of the late s had a considerable impact on the organization. In , we eliminated much of our curriculum and in , the business ceased operations.
The completed assessments were never scored or used in any study, and upon the closing of the business they remained in my possession in a locked cabinet in my home office. My own practice as a part-time professional astrologer followed a similar trajectory to the organization. In ,1 began my doctoral studies. As I learned more about clinical psychology and counseling individuals, as well as confounds and artifacts, I began to develop ambivalence about my horoscope-based interactions with paying clients.
Although I was still lecturing about astrological archetypes and their relation to myth and symbolism, I ceased meeting with clients to interpret their horoscopes. However, my interest in astrology research grew. I wanted to know what research had been previously conducted and how questions about astrology's validity had been explored. I knew from personal experience that many people are interested in astrology and willing to pay money to learn more and be "assessed" by a professional astrologer. Yet, ultimately, I felt that I did not have enough information to answer the question of whether the horoscope does, in fact, independently reflect a person's personality development or whether there are contributing confounding factors.
This question is the starting point for this doctoral study. The Researcher's Predisposition to the Topic As mentioned above, my predisposition to this topic includes my years of study and work as an astrologer and astrology teacher. One of my predispositions is that I know astrology "works" in that it clearly provides satisfaction and solace for millions of people; I experienced this first-hand in my interactions with clients and students.
I know my own natal chart very well and there are many symbols in the horoscope that I can attribute to my personality. Without controlling for confounds or artifacts, I have experienced the apparent appearance of astrology variables that correlate with personality characteristics. However, over time, I developed uneasiness with astrology. I had the same "wrong chart" experience that well-known professional astrologers David Hamblin Phillipson, and Peter Niehenke had, where a natal chart is constructed and a well-received interpretation is given to a client, who expresses his or her amazement at the interpretation, and then it is discovered that you had the wrong birth information and thus interpreted the wrong natal chart.
I read and identified with the "confessions" of other former professional astrologers who described similar initial amazement and then disappointment after researching astrology and concluding that confounds and artifacts play a key role in astrology's acceptance Phillipson, ; Smit, n. Mostly I. Often I had the sense that my astrology clients had psychological concerns that were not being addressed and the reliance on a horoscope may actually inhibit potential insight and self-awareness.
Yet, there were still times when the exactitude of personality characteristics and life events that astrology was able to predict about a complete stranger for whom I only had birth information was awe-inspiring. Although I have not practiced astrology for a number of years due both to my ambivalence and my evolving interests, there are still times that I miss the otherworldly feeling of those first astrology experiences.
Ultimately, having had an emotional and financial investment in astrology's success at one point in my life renders me vulnerable to charges of subjectivity. Additionally, when the institute's committee of individuals who were supporters and "believers" in astrology first conceived of doing this type of research, I was on that committee and a practicing astrologer, which certainly suggests a predisposition toward a positive result.
However, my distance from a professional or personal astrology practice theoretically allows for some of the objectivity that can develop over time and space; at the very least, my transference reactions have the potential to be less powerful and more conscious Heglend et al. Moreover, the argument has been made that pure objectivity by a researcher is a fantasy and the subjectivity of the researcher is not only intimately involved in the topics we choose, but is a valuable enhancement to the research process Gergen, ; Ratner, ; Romanyshyn, In the end, I learned enough about the proprieties of astrology to stand confidently next to any professional astrologer and subsequently invested myself completely in the.
I feel that this combination serves to protect the integrity of a study such as this. Unlike the skeptics, I am not out to disprove astrology or use the opportunity to scorn or condemn its practitioners which has been done, as reviewed below. Nor am I one of the believers who are so invested in a positive outcome for astrology that anything else is dismissed as "bad science" or defended against with stubbornness and stoicism.
Instead, I approach this study with interest and curiosity, the recognition of its limitations, and the investment to carry it through to the answers and further questions it reveals. The sheer number of publications about astrology is vast. A search of the Library of Congress's online catalog search returned book titles with reference to the keyword of astrology Library of Congress, ; this does not include the considerable number of astrology references in journal publications, both peer and non-peer reviewed.
Another difficulty is that there are distinct interpretive approaches to astrology that are roughly associated with geographically based cultural philosophies, such as Western, Vedic, Chinese, Babylonian, Mayan, and more. Additionally, the field of astrology includes many different methodologies for using and interpreting the symbols of the horoscope: this includes natal astrology interpreting the natal chart cast at the moment of birth for personality characteristics , predictive astrology using current planetary transits and other forms of astrological measurement to predict events , electional astrology choosing astrologically beneficial dates , horary astrology a divination technique in which the horoscope is used to answer specific questions , mundane astrology the application of astrology to world affairs and world events , medical astrology using astrology to predict specific health problems , synastry comparing horoscopes to discern relational tendencies between individuals, groups, or both , intuitive astrology using the horoscope as an object to direct "psychic" intuition , and other specialized niches agricultural, astro-meteorology, esoteric, alchemical, etc.
To accommodate the disparate number of sources concerning astrology and their relevance to this study, the literature to be surveyed was limited primarily to statistical, scientific, or research-based studies of Western, natal astrology, with a focus on. Although this literature review does include a brief history of astrology, it does not include research studies of predictive astrology or any of the other subsets of astrology, nor does it include nonscholarly or case study publications. This review also does not include non-peer reviewed studies except where included as part of a meta-analysis.
History of Astrology Astrology has a vast and varied history. The myth-making, storytelling, and image-creating references to the rising and setting of the Sun and Moon as they moved across the sky can be traced back as far as the Stone Age, circa BCE Campion, By the 16th century BCE, the Babylonians had begun to compile lists of astronomical phenomenon and what they believed were correspondences with mundane events, which became known to historians from the Enuma Anu Enlila series of tablets that interpret the observations in terms relevant to the king Holden, By the first century AD, astrology had developed as a system of observations and interpretations that would be readily recognizable to the modern astrologer Holden, ; Whitfield, By the Middle Ages, astrology had spread throughout the world and attained a position of prominence until approximately the 17th century, when astrology became a focus of attack in the tide of scientific reason spreading through the universities Bobrick, ; Tester, In the midth century, astrology was banished from the universities in France and Europe and faded from the public sector.
The Theosophical movement revived interest in astrology in Great Britain during the late 19th century and its re-kindled popularity spread to the United States Lehmann, Popular View of Astrology as a Scientific Discipline Astrology's popularity has remained intact into the 21st century. Nor is belief in astrology limited to entertainment, folklore, or religious practice.
In , the European Commission conducted a public opinion poll of all the Member States of the European Union and found that Academic Criticism of Astrology as a Scientific Discipline In spite of the popular belief in astrology as a practice and a science, much of the academic and scientific community remains incredulous and critical towards astrology as a scientific discipline worthy of study.
Richard Dawkins, one of the preeminent scientists of the twenty-first century and the author of The Selfish Gene Dawkins, , roundly. One of the strongest statements of condemnation was published in by The Humanist: A Magazine of Critical Inquiry and Social Concern, which produced a manifesto entitled, "Objections to Astrology: A Statement by Leading Scientists," in which a group of scientists, including 19 Nobel laureates, attempted to make the case that "believing" in astrology is unscientific and ignorant: Those who wish to believe in astrology should realize that there is no scientific foundation for its tenets One would imagine, in this day of widespread enlightenment and education, that it would be unnecessary to debunk beliefs based on magic and superstition We believe that the time has come to challenge directly, and forcefully, the pretentious claims of astrological charlatans.
It should be apparent that those individuals who continue to have faith in astrology do so in spite of the fact that there is no verified scientific basis for their beliefs, and indeed that there is strong evidence to the contrary. Goodstein and Brazis conducted a large-scale study designed to test academic bias against astrology. In order to evaluate the potential effects of bias by psychologists, they sent randomly chosen members of the American Psychological Association APA a fictitious study of astrology with a questionnaire that asked the psychologists to rate the quality and scientific merit of the study.
Two identical abstracts were distributed randomly among the sample, but one group of abstracts reported positive findings and the other negative findings. Of the responses returned, those who received the abstract with the negative findings rated the study as having a better design and greater scientific merit than those receiving the abstract indicating positive findings for astrology.
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Additionally, Goodstein and Brazis report that some of the responses to the questionnaire included unsolicited commentary indicating strong affective reactions and prejudgments against astrology as a discipline. Other academics have studied astrology's philosophy, tenets, and principles, and have criticized astrology at the level of its methods. Numerous detractors have claimed that there is little consensus among astrologers on the basic issuestheories, techniques, and interpretationsand the same horoscope is often interpreted in an idiosyncratic way by the particular astrologer doing the interpretation.
These same critics contend that astrologers have a pervasive hindsight bias; the sheer numbers of variables allow astrologers to choose, after the fact, from multiple combinations to fit the event. Kelly has published a number of highly dismissive critiques of astrology and repeatedly concludes that astrology is too multifaceted and too contradictory to be a reliable source of information Kelly, , ,, Unlike most published criticisms including the "Objections to Astrology" manifesto mentioned above , Kelly's critical essays are generally well researched with numerous citations of evidence against astrology.
Because of this, his publications are often cited in the literature, making him a powerful influence in astrology research. Kelly maintains that astrologers are biased and tend to consider confirming evidence, but not contrary evidence, maintaining that there is a willful ignorance of current research that fails to support astrology's central tenets. He quotes Robert Hand, one of the foremost authors in modern astrology and a frequent speaker at astrology conventions, as stating that "positive results in the scientific study of astrology have to be taken seriously undeniably, but negative results not so seriously" Perry, , p.
Kelly also mentions West, who wrote in his text The Case for Astrology , that "intimate details of the bulk of the negative evidence do not really concern us" p. Although Kelly and Dean has been subjected to criticisms of bias against astrology e. Phillipson , who interviewed more than thirty leading professional astrologers, also found that many are either ignorant of the scientific research studies in astrology or are of the opinion that current astrology research is misguided and not a true reflection of the craft. Alexander , a proponent of using the horoscope as a counseling tool, dismisses the astrology research as irrelevant: "We have enough cumulative experience to know that astrology works, whether the computer studies and the scientists agree with us or not" p.
Although the above-cited comments may not be reflective of the astrological community as a whole, openness to scientific inquiry is an important component to gaining credibility in the academic communities that currently dismiss astrology.
Kelly , also strongly criticizes astrology's validity through the ubiquitous use of confirming evidence. Using as an example the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, Kelly cites Lilley-Harvey , a well-known British professional astrologer, who compared Charles and Diana's natal charts prior to their marriage and interpreted strong rapport, emotional compatibility, and harmony. Kelly then cited Campion a , an equally well-known British professional astrologer, who interpreted emotional incompatibility, anger, and trauma when comparing the two natal charts after the divorce.
Kelly dismissively stated that "an astrological horoscope generally provides planetary configurations for any number of conflicting predictions or after-the-fact explanations of events, so no wonder astrologers claim to see it 'working' everywhere" p. Astrology's presence in academic environments is controversial and disparaged because of astrology's poor reputation among some academics Evans, ; Jayaraman, This strong criticism of astrology as a scientific discipline when compared to the popular interest in astrology as a scientific field of study is interesting, and suggests, at the very least, that the debate is far from concluded.
However, the argument that astrology is not a valid discipline and thus is not a worthy candidate for scientific study is an important assertion that cannot be ignored. Obviously academic subjects do not need to be scientifically valid in order to qualify for scholarly inquiry. History, religion, the arts, and virtually all the humanities are, for the most part, not scientifically reliable when looked at through a scientific lens but are considered appropriate fields for academic.
Additionally, for research purposes, a topic does not need to be scientifically reliable to qualify for statistical study, especially using qualitative mixed methods. However, natal astrology's dominant, central thesis is that the horoscope can reliably predict personality characteristics at the moment of birth; that is, persons born with certain astrological configurations or significators points or positions in the natal chart , such as the Sun in Gemini, will tend to have personality characteristics that are distinct from others born with different astrological significators, such as the Sun in Scorpio.
This hypothesis, at the very least, puts astrology in the realm of testable, experimental study, and academic research of this type requires a careful consideration of reliability and validity L. These types of studies are the central focus of the research review below. Overview of the Astrology Research to Date Perhaps the best single-volume overview of modern astrology and research is Phillipson's wide-reaching survey text, Astrology in the Year Zero Phillipson, It is a highly thought provoking and rigorous book based upon more than thirty interviews with professional astrologers and researchers, and provides a synopsis of the academic arguments between astrologers and scientists regarding astrology's validity as a discipline.
Each of the researchers quoted in Phillipson's text has studied astrology for over twenty years. Two are former, full-time practicing astrologers Dean and Smit and two are university professors. Collectively, they have written over two hundred. Smit maintains the website, www. Dean and Mather, under the auspices of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, compiled one of the earliest and most important collections of modern astrology research.
It was the first of its kind and became a bible of sorts for astrology researchers world-wide Kelly, Dean, in particular, is a controversial figure in the field of astrology. Prior to abandoning his astrology practice, he was a full-time practicing astrologer and astrology instructor who served as the founding president of the Australian Astrologers, Western Australia branch Phillipson, Phillipson asked the researchers to summarize their position on the astrology research conducted to date.
Collectively, these researchers identified four main points: 1. Many important questions regarding astrology's scientific validity have been researched extensively and the results have been overwhelmingly negative. Of the positive studies, most have foiled to replicate or withstood postpublication peer review of faulty methods. It is noteworthy that the increasing evidence against astrology, as well as some personal experiences. The sheer number of persons who claim that astrology works is substantial.
However, from a scientific perspective, it is not enough to identify correspondences to astrological calculations and symbols. All nonastrological factors that could be contributing to the same result need to be considered and ruled out. These researchers argue that astrologers have generally done a poor job identifying confounding variables and artifacts when citing evidence for astrology's validity.
Most astrological studies published by non-peer reviewed publications tend to rely on anecdotes or testimonials as central evidence. Astrology as a field has not done a reasonable job of identifying and discussing reasoning errors that may contribute to the conclusion that astrology is valid; these include reasoning by analogy things similar in one respect are also similar in other respects , confirmation bias interpreting to confirm pre-existing beliefs , illusory correlation interpreting correlations that are not statistically significant , placebo effect the tendency for an intervention to work simply because the recipient believes it will , the Dr.
These reasoning errors can explain many of the mistakes made in data analysis and need to be carefully controlled in all scientific research, including astrology. One cannot deny the historical importance of astrology or the fact that many people find satisfaction with astrology. It is important to note that astrology does not need to be a scientifically valid perspective to provide solace, meaning, and perspective for interpreting one's life and worldview, much like a religious orientation.
Additionally, although there have not been many positive tests of astrology and most failed to replicate, there are studies that warrant further inquiry and astrological tenets that remain unexamined. The existing research represents the conclusions up to date, but scientists should remain open-minded to possible future discoveries in astrology research. Currently over five hundred empirical studies of astrology have been published, although many have not been subjected to peer review and are not easily retrievable Dean, ; Phillipson et al.
In addition, there are numerous astrology studies, generally published by astrologers, that use the term research, but almost all of these studies use anecdotal evidence and do not meet the rigorous standards of scientific research Urban-Lurain, a. The majority of the. To date, most of the peer-reviewed, empirical studies of astrology have been either blind matching studies, where the ability to match the correct horoscope to a person or a personality profile is tested, or single variable and multivariate experiments, where variables in the natal chart are compared to personality profiles, case histories, or standardized scores from personality assessment questionnaires.
Matching studies. Many of the studies are obscure and it is difficult to locate the original publications. The major matching studies are reviewed below. Carlson experiment Perhaps the most well known and most cited of all the matching studies is Carlson's experiment that was published in Nature, one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals.
Carlson proposed to test "the fundamental thesis of astrology" that the moment of birth can be used to predict general personality. In an attempt to provide fair conditions for his experimental design, Carlson reported participation from an advisory panel of three astrologers from the National Council for Geocosmic Research NCGR , an international astrological organization dedicated to education and research in astrology, during the test design stage.
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The study consisted of two distinct experiments. The first experiment consisted of two parts. In the first part, 83 subjects were given three narrative horoscope interpretations that were generated by the participating astrologers. One was the correct horoscope interpretation and two were selected randomly from the pool of horoscope interpretations for the other participants.
The subjects were asked to select the correct one that corresponded with their birth information, ranking the three interpretations in the order of best fit. The interpretations included descriptions of personality, relationships, career, education, and current life situation. A control group of 94 subjects was asked to complete the same task, but none of the three horoscopes actually belonged to the subject. Carlson's control group consisted of a mixed group of people that included subjects who strongly disbelieved in astrology, subjects who previously had a natal chart constructed for them, subjects under 17 years old, and persons who did not know their exact birth time, birthplace, or birth location.
In the second part of the first experiment, 56 subjects and 50 control subjects were given three psychological personality profiles derived from the California Psychological Inventory CPI Gough, and a two-page summary of the 18 CPI scales used for the profile. They were then asked to select their correct CPI profile, again ranking the three profiles in terms of best fit.
In the second experiment, a group of astrologers were given packets that included a horoscope and three CPI profiles, and asked to match the horoscope to the correct profile. Unlike the subjects, the astrologers were provided with a page interpretation manual of the CPI scales. Once they made their selection, the astrologers were then asked to rate their level of confidence in making that selection. It is important to note that although Carlson mailed out envelopes with the data to 28 astrologers, he reported that some astrologers "refused to participate" after receiving the packets in the mail Carlson, , p.
Unfortunately, Carlson does not say how many astrologers did participate, so the actual number of astrologers who completed the study is unclear Ertel, ; Vidmar, This is odd, as the control group was selecting from three interpretations, none of which was actually theirs. Carlson referred to this as a "statistical fluctuation" , p. In the second experiment, the astrologers matched the correct.
From these results, Carlson concluded that "the experiment clearly refutes the astrological hypothesis" Carlson, , p. Carlson's article was widely popularized and upon publication, his "proof' that astrology was false was immediately reported in newspapers and on television programs throughout the US, UK, and Canada, causing many in the astrological community to criticize the "media circus" Vidmar, , p. In spite of its popular appeal immediately following publication, the article has been subjected to withering criticism since then for its poor design, improper methods and procedure, and faulty data analysis Cornelius, ; Ertel, ; Eysenck, a, b; T.
Hamilton, ; McRitchie, Criticisms of the study include the basic research design. No demographic information was provided in the study about the astrologers. In particular, noticeably missing is any information about their years of study or practice, education level, or what criteria were used to establish them as experts, which is a considerable flaw in the study considering Carlson's emphasis on the importance of the astrologers participation in designing the study Vidmar, For his experimental methods, Carlson decided to require a 2. It is. Using standard deviation, which is a measure of variance, as a criterion for acceptance or rejection of the null hypothesis is also a curious and atypical decision for this type of experimental study Ertel, Additionally, rather than a clearly defined hypothesis or a statement of a null hypothesis, Carlson stated that he was testing "the fundamental thesis of astrology," which he defined as the proposition that the horoscope can be used to determine the subjects personality traits , p.
However, he then tested the ability for astrologers and subjects to recognize a psychological assessment profile and then reached the conclusion that "the experiment clearly refutes the astrological hypothesis" and that although "astrology was given every reasonable chance to succeed Carlson has been criticized for concluding that astrology doesn't work instead of concluding that astrologers cannot match a horoscope to a psychological profile that they were not trained to use or interpret Cornelius, ; Eysenck, a; Vidmar, Ertel notes that the limits of experimental science dictate that such a definitive conclusion cannot be drawn whether or not the experimenter is able to reject the null hypothesis in a particular study.
McGrew and McFall note that both the subjects and the astrologers failed to select the CPI profile that corresponded to the subject and the horoscope. The test subjects' inability to select their correct CPI profile from a validated assessment instrument could not have been due to the invalidity of astrology. Their failure to complete the task instead suggests some nonastrological difficulty; the same nonastrological factor that may have made it difficult to identify the correct CPI.
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Given this methodological inadequacy, the results should be considered inconclusive, at best. Carlson wrote that "care was taken to include all suggestions by the astrologers provided they could be followed without biasing the experiment for or against the astrological thesis" p. However, after the study was published, Hamilton , one of the participating astrologers cited by Carlson as assisting with the research design, claimed that she wrote Carlson a letter in 4 years prior to publication that outlined her objections to the study.
Her concerns included the composition of the control group, the fact that astrologers were not told whether the subjects were male or female a requirement for the CPI , the limitations and complexity of the CPI, and the lack of qualifications to use the CPI. In addition, Erin Sullivan, another of the participating astrologers, since produced a photocopy of a registered letter she sent Carlson in , outlining her questions about the experiment and its validity Vidmar, None of these concerns would, at face value, appear to bias the "astrological thesis," but the objections were not noted in the Carlson publication, which Ertel criticizes as "misleading.
Vidmar published a photocopy of a letter from Carlson to one of the participating astrologers stating that "we are very near interpreting the results as FAVORING [sic] the astrological thesis," while asking her to complete her assigned data submission p. This would suggest that the study was not double blind and was, in fact, being analyzed prior to and while data was still being gathered.
Ertel noted that Carlson's data analysis was incomplete according to his own research design. In his methods description, Carlson stated that "we had. Instead, Carlson analyzed the first, second, and third choice data separately without providing an analysis of the total effect for those who selected the correct description as either the first or second choice, as proposed.
Carlson does not provide a reason for this exclusion. Ertel criticized this type of analysis of the test and control groups, arguing that separate calculation of the deviation from expectancy for both the test and control group violated the logic of control group frequencies, where the test group frequencies were compared to the control group frequencies. Ertel noted that "the actual expectancy of the null hypothesis is no difference between test and control data," not separate and distinct deviations from expectancy p.
Ertel reanalyzed Carlson's data, this time combining the first and second choice hits, as Carlson initially planned. Ertel found that astrologers made the correct selection as the first or second choice 86 times versus the expected Carlson's advisor. Maddox has publically stated that "astrology is a pack of lies in the literal sense Vidmar noted that Carlson's seven-page article was approved by Maddox for the Commentary section of the journal, which is the editorial opinion section of the journal and is not peer reviewed.
Clark experiments. The other widely read and popularized matching experiments are those conducted by Vernon Clark Clark, a psychologist who sat on the UK Faculty for Astrological Studies, conducted three matching tests of astrologers between and Collectively, the tests included 50 astrologers from the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, and Australia, all of whom had over four years experience as an astrologer.
The first experiment was a blind test in which 20 astrologers were asked to match five male horoscopes with the correct five occupations: a snake breeder, musician, accountant, veterinarian, and art teacher. In addition to the horoscope, the astrologers were provided with brief narrative descriptions of the horoscope owners'.
Each of the subjects were at least forty-five years old, established in his or her career, with reliable birth times that were either exact or within the quarter hour. A group of 20 psychologists and social workers with no astrological knowledge was used as a control. The second experiment was also a blind test. Twenty astrologers were given 10 pairs of horoscopes. For each pair, the astrologers were given one case history and had to decide which horoscope was the correct match to that history.
In each pair, one horoscope was genuine and the other was generated from a random time and place close to the genuine horoscope's birth data birth date, birthplace, or time of birth. The third experiment was a double-blind test. Thirty astrologers were provided 10 pairs of horoscopes. Independent physicians and psychologists supplied the data for the subjects and an independent astrologer created the natal charts, so that Clark had no knowledge of the data or answers. The astrologers average scores on the three tests are a statistically significant: 6.
The average scores for the control groups controls for the three tests were 5. However, Clark's results have never been replicated, and although a handful of studies showed slightly better than chance results Joseph, ; Vidmar, , March , meta-analysis of 54 existing matching tests where a total of astrologers matched a total of 1, horoscopes show results no.
Additionally, as Eysenck and Nias note, the participant selection is questionable in many of the matching tests because of the failure to control for previous astrological knowledge. Eysenck and Nias also contend that the results of virtually all the matching tests done to date are consistent with the use of small samples where sampling variations are mistaken for genuine effects pp. McGrew and McFall experiment Although the Carlson and Clark studies dominate the literature, McGrew and McFall , conducted a littleknown, but well-designed matching study.
In collaboration with the Indiana Federation of Astrologers IFA , McGrew and McFall's experiment tested the ability of six professional astrologers and one control subject a graduate student in clinical psychology with no astrological knowledge to match the correct horoscope to 23 individual, volunteer test subjects. The questionnaire covered a broad range of personal information, including but not limited to hobbies, interests, religious beliefs, physical characteristics, personal talents and achievements, family background, dates of significant life events births, deaths, major geographical relocations , and attitudes toward authority, sex, and commitment.
The test subjects also completed two standardized psychological teststhe Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory and the Cattell 16PFto provide further information about general interests, potential vocations, and personality traits. Additionally, two photographs of the test subjects, frontal and profile, were provided to determine body types. The final experimental protocol was approved by the IFA as fair and the organization agreed to sanction the project.
All of the 23 test subjects were Caucasian 4 men, 19 women. Each of the volunteer test subjects had responded to an announcement in the local newspaper for free vocational testing for native-born American adults who were at least thirty years old. Soliciting volunteers for vocational testing was chosen to control for astrological bias in the study.
The age range was a request by the IFA to ensure mature personality characteristics. The volunteers were asked to bring accurate information about their birth date, birth place, and time of birth, and told that the experiment included testing for the possible influences of the maternal diurnal cycle on personality development. The volunteers were not informed of the astrological nature of the study until after they had completed the testing, although McGrew and McFall reported that two of the volunteers said during debriefing that they had suspected the study had something to do with astrology.
The astrologers and control subjects were given two sets of information. One set had all the materials completed by the test subjects, grouped into 23 personal information files. The other set had the birth information and horoscopes for the test subjects. They were also offered the option of selecting an unlimited number of alternative choices for each case; confidence levels were not recorded for alternative choices.
The control subjects, who matched the horoscopes randomly, achieved three matches, equal to the. Additionally, there was little relationship between the astrologers' confidence-level and the accuracy of their predictions. The mean confidence level for the correct matches was Although this argument is not without merit, McGrew and McFall's use of the carefully constructed, IFA-approved questionnaire and the two additional, well-validated psychological assessment instruments was a thorough and comprehensive manner to assess for current personality and behavioral characteristics, self-awareness notwithstanding.
Nanninga experiment Nanninga also conducted a matching test he titled 'The Astrotest" in which professional astrologers were involved in the experimental design. Nanninga reported that more than seventy astrologers initially replied. Nanninga then asked the volunteers to participate in the creation of a personality profile questionnaire to give to the test subjects.
The volunteers sent in an average of ten questions each that Nanninga synthesized into a master list of 25 questions that covered subjects such as education, vocation, hobbies, interests, goals, personality, relationships, and health. Nanninga reported that he gave the questionnaire to "eight experienced astrologers" who "had no major objections" Nanninga, , p.
Ultimately, 44 astrologers participated in the actual experiment. Each participant was asked to match seven horoscopes to seven test subjects who completed the questionnaire.
Nanninga did not provide any details regarding where or how he found his volunteer test subjects. The astrologers who. Over half reported doing more than one hundred professional interpretations of horoscopes, nearly one-third reported that they were frequently paid for their services, and a quarter of the astrologers were members of the Dutch Society of Practicing Astrologers. The participants were also invited to submit their level of confidence in the task prior to completion. The most successful participant matched three of the seven horoscopes to the correct test subject, which is strikingly low compared to the level of confidence expressed by the participants.
The mean level of hits expected by chance was 1. Nanninga also tested for astrologer agreement. The mean agreement between all the participants was 0. Of the 49 possible combinations, none was selected more than 12 times by the 44 participants. Only two of the 44 participants submitted the same seven solutions, but their seven choices for best fit were no better than chance. Although he does not supply the actual data, Nanninga reported that there was no difference in success rates or agreement between the most and least experienced of the astrologers. Matching studies analysis.
As a whole, matching studies in astrology have failed to confirm the hypothesis that the horoscope influences personality. A previous meta-analysis of those studies by Dean, Mather, and Kelly reported a mean effect size as a correlation of. Generally, an effect size of. Cohen, Thus, the mean effect size of. However, that reported effect size should be approached with some caution.
Unfortunately, the meta analysis publication did not provide any data for the reliability measures, nor a list of the studies on which the original observed effect size and reliability were calculated, which in itself is unusual for a scholarly meta-analysis publication. Additionally, the authors report that most astrology studies are poorly designed, but presumably included those studies in the meta-analysis. According to Slavin , using poorly designed studies in a meta-analysis contaminates the resulting measure; in other words, the low correlation measure could be a result of the selection of the studies as much as a statement about the ability of astrologers to match horoscopes.
In addition to having the astrologer match the horoscope to the test subject, other matching studies involve having subjects select their own horoscope interpretation from a selection of interpretations that have cues such as dates or astrology interpretive keywords removed i. Dean, Mather, and Kelly. However, when the studies were divided into those that controlled for astrological cues such as Sun-sign keywords , the effect size for the controlled studies was. Martens and Trachet conducted a meta-analysis of seven self-selection studies with a total of participants.
The studies ranged from two to six interpretive horoscope descriptions from which the subject had to choose the correct one. The meta-analysis indicated that the subjects selected the correct horoscope interpretation 80 times versus the 83 expected by chance. Again, however, neither of the two meta-analyses provided a list of the studies or the data for which the meta-analysis was conducted. Although the meta-analysis studies suggest that the existing research has failed to support an astrological effect, the failure to provide the data or a list of the studies considered is unfortunate.
Additionally, drawing conclusions from the matching tests is difficult. Some of the studies were designed with the participation of professional astrologers, but many of the matching studies do not clearly state whether the experimenter had training or experience with natal chart construction or analysis, which introduces the question of whether these individuals understood the subject well enough to establish the test limits and account for test error, as well as identify their own assumptions.
Many of the matching studies and resulting meta-analyses using these studies have been designed and conducted by skeptics of astrology, which implicates potential bias in the experiment. Additionally, the matching studies do not have clearly defined predictor variables except for the ability to select the correct horoscope better. Although this allows for the "whole chart" analysis see Dean, b; van Rooij, b , this does not allow for determining which astrological variables the astrologers were using and is a challenge to detailed and rigorous construct validity measures of the horoscope.
Additionally, matching tests require individual astrologers' interpretations, whether in creating the horoscope interpretation reports or in their own analysis. This introduces the question of reliability in the astrologers' abilities, which is a confounding factor when testing the validity of the horoscope; in other words, poor performance by astrologers does not necessarily mean that the horoscope is invalid. However, the overall meager agreements between astrologers when matching the horoscopes to personality profiles are cause for concern.
Dean and Kelly reported a meta-analysis of 25 studies of astrologer agreement involving close to astrologers with a mean agreement of only 0. Comparatively, in the social sciences, usually anything below. Astrology's presupposition that the horoscope allows the astrologer to determine personality structures is essentially a diagnostic position and is comparable to a psychologist's use of a personality assessment instrument.
Like personality assessment scores, the horoscope needs to be interpreted; it does not exist as an independent diagnostic entity and agreement between astrologers about the horoscope's meaning is crucial. The diagnostic inter-rater reliability for psychiatrists and psychologists typically range from. Dean, Mather, and Kelly Comparatively, the. Inter-rater reliability and agreement are essential for scientific measurement because without scoring agreement and consistency, it is generally not possible to determine most other reliability and validity measurements Cone, ; Fleiss et al.
Kolbe and Burnett assert that "high levels of disagreement among judges suggest weaknesses in research methods, including the possibility of poor operational definitions, categories, and judge training" p. In other words, the apparent inability for astrologers to consistently diagnose and interpret the horoscope consistently, as compared to their peers, makes measuring the validity of the horoscope difficult, introduces questions about astrologer training methods, and suggests poorly defined variables. For the purposes of this study, the historically poor inter-rater reliability among professional astrologers suggests that individual astrologer interpretations of the horoscope is a questionable means by which to test the hypothesis that the horoscope can predict personality measures.
More objective, standardized assessment instruments correlated with the factors in the natal chart is one way to control for the questions of astrologer reliability. Existing single variable and multivariate analysis studies of astrology are reviewed below. Sun sign experiments. Sun sign astrology is the means by which most people know about astrology. Although it is nearly impossible to know the points and positions in the natal chart at any given time without making calculations using charts, tables, an.
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Thus, Sun sign astrology is the most common means by which people are introduced to astrology. When people identify themselves by an astrology sign, such as "I am a Virgo," they may not even know that this means that the Sun in their natal chart was in the sign of Virgo at the moment of birth using a Western, Tropical zodiac. In fact, it is likely that most people think that their Sun sign is their astrology sign. Accordingly, there have been numerous single variable analyses of Sun signs and personality traits.
Generally, all of them have found little or no relationship between the Sun sign and personality e. Outside the realm of testing for correlations between Sun signs and personality variables, but notable nonetheless, Vermeer tested whether there was a relationship between astrology Sun signs and the length of life with special attention given to the commonly held astrological theory that people with Sun signs in Capricorn live longer than people with other Sun signs. Vermeer collected birth and death data from all the tombstones in seven cemeteries in the Netherlands.
Vermeer excluded any infants who died within six months of birth for a total sample size of 7, individuals. Reichardt recently published a study that is remarkable because of its extraordinarily large sample, which would make it sensitive to even very small effects J. Reichardt tested a number of common, well-known astrological descriptions for various Sun signs related to sex and marriage e. The GSS has been conducted yearly or every other year since and currently has a cumulative sample of over 53, adult respondents. Reichardt cross-tabulated responses from the data set about sexual and marriage activity with the respondents' available birth information to establish a sample size of 22,, from which he then compared data responses to Sun signs.
Similarly, there was little difference between signs for extra-marital affairs or marital status. There was also little difference between Sun signs in reported political views. In fact, the results were slightly in the wrong direction for a couple of strongly held astrological beliefs. The EPQ added a third factor: Psychoticism. In systems, the Extraversion scale measures introversion and extraversion traits along a spectrum and the Neuroticism scale measures the spectrum of emotional stability with calm, even-tempered, and stable on the low-end and high experiences of positive or negative emotion on the other end.
Although it has not been a factor in the majority of the studies that use the EPQ, the Psychoticism scale measures the spectrum of aggression and hostility with agreeableness. At the time of its publication, the Mayo, White, and Eysenck author of the EPI study was one of the largest statistical analyses of astrology that had ever been conducted.
Utilizing the EPI, the authors set out to test the common astrological theory that the positive Sun signs. The study also tested the common astrological belief that the three water Sun signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are more emotional than the other nine Sun signs. In order to test the hypotheses, male and female adult subjects completed the EPI and their scores on the Extraversion and Neuroticism scales were correlated with the Sun sign groups. The results clearly supported both hypotheses.
All six of the positive Sun signs had significantly elevated scores on the Extraversion scale with all six of the negative Sun signs scoring lower than average. Additionally, all three of the water Sun signs had significantly elevated scores on the Neuroticism scale and every other Sun sign except for Aries had below average mean scores.
The results of the study were widely dispersed and hailed as the most important development in astrology research that had been conducted to date Dean et al. One of the initial appeals of the study's findings was the size of the sample, which was much larger than anything previously tested in an astrology study. Get the Horoscope Guide!
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