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HOROSCOPE. BY FRANCIS DRAKE COMIC Relief YOU BORN TODAY: You take commitments seriously and become very involved with whatever you.
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It should be noted that horoscopes are particularly susceptible to the Barnum effect because they tend to be written in ambiguous, nonspecific terms that can be interpreted in many ways, but psychological tests are also prone to the Barnum effect Wyman and Vyse An additional factor that has been implicated in the acceptance of horoscopes is whether the description is positive or negative.

In a test using horoscopes that varied in their positive or negative valence, Hamilton found that—as you might expect—people were more willing to say their horoscope was valid if the description was generally positive; however, using a different method of testing with a German sample, Wunder found no effect of the favorableness of sun signs. In some cases, rather than having the individual pick out their own horoscope from a selection of horoscopes, the identification was made by a friend or relative who knew the target individual well Tyson , but this technique did not produce any better results.

This method also came up short.


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Thus, the overwhelming result of many studies is that horoscopes are not valid descriptions of personality. One of the major explanations for belief in superstition is the desire for control over uncontrollable events Vyse , and a number of studies suggest that the desire for control is also an important factor in belief in astrology. For example, in a Finnish study, Outi Lillqvist and Marjaana Lindeman gave questionnaires to people who had signed up for adult education classes in either introduction to astrology, psychology, or German.

Compared to students in the other classes, astrology students reported having recently experienced more life crises e. Interestingly, even among the control groups who took either psychology or German classes, those who reported greater belief in astrology also reported having experienced more life crises. So it appears that when people lose their footing and are shaken by the world, astrology provides a sense of order and control. In a laboratory study, American research participants were asked to judge how accurate a horoscope was, but before they made the judgment they were primed to have a sense of control or the lack of control.

Half the participants were asked to recall a time when something happened to them and they were in control of the situation, and the other half was asked to remember a time when something happened but they were not in control. But if there really is a surge in belief among young people, the foregoing summary provides a few hints as to why. First, another recent Pew Research study shows that millennials are less religious than older generations but not less spiritual. At the same time millennials were very similar to other generations on questions about having a sense of wonder in the universe, feelings of gratitude, and a concern for meaning and purpose Alper So, for some younger people for whom traditional religion does not appeal, astrology may provide a spiritual outlet.

Second, two factors may be combining to make astrology more appealing at the moment: liberalism and a need for control. Astrology has a stronger appeal for liberals than conservatives, and in the United States, since the election in November , the liberal world has been rocked. If ever there was a time when liberals might be looking for a compensatory sense of control, now is it. Conservatives are feeling better, but even if the tables were turned, the Pew survey data suggests they would be more likely to take refuge in religion rather than astrology or other forms of spirituality.

If history of this moment has promoted belief in the paranormal, it would not be the first time. Earlier studies have shown an increased interest in astrology and other occult beliefs during periods of economic and political stress, such as in Germany during the s Padgett and Jorgenson Finally, we cannot overlook an obvious additional factor—the internet.

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There are fewer television commercials for telephone psychics these days, but the internet has exploded as a new vehicle for psychics and astrologers. Millennials are very adept at computers and smartphones, and the internet provides the opportunity to read a horoscope or consult an astrologer without fear of stigmatization or ridicule.


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If, as I suspect, my student did not abandon astrology after uncovering evidence that it is a baseless pseudoscience as further evidence for this hypothesis, I will point out that she gave me an astrology book when she graduated , there must be a very large audience for sun signs and natal charts.

In addition, the rise of a generation that is not as traditionally religious as previous ones but is still seeking a kind of spiritual satisfaction, combined with the vanquishing of liberal politics in the United States and abroad, has created a fertile environment for this form of superstition and unreason. He can be found on Twitter at stuartvyse. To her credit, she was willing to let the ….

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Alert: This site works better with javascript. The Demographics of Belief One of the most noteworthy aspects of belief in astrology is that it is more often embraced by liberals.

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James Randi performing a classroom demonstration of the Barnum effect The Psychology of Belief Perhaps because astrology is so remarkably resilient, research on the psychology of belief has a long and continuing history. References Alper, Becka A. Millennials are less religious than older Americans, but just as spiritual. Pew Research Center November Beck, Julie. The new age of astrology.

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Cleveland Cavaliers to visit the Detroit Pistons in division play. Sacramento plays Phoenix after overtime win. NFL stars joined students in virtual chats about racism. Newspapers in Philadelphia and Dayton, Ohio, soon followed with daily columns, and by other large newspapers, including the New York Daily News and Los Angeles Times, had their own columns. Their numbers increased as astrology grew more and more popular, reaching a peak in the s. Stores sold sun sign clothing, perfume manufacturers brought out zodiac scents and hairdressers even created sun sign hairdos.

Now as common as bridge columns and crossword puzzles, astrology columns can be found in feature sections, on the comic pages or buried among classified ads.

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Although that might spell doom for any other kind of feature, he added that he is unlikely to remove it. One former editor for a Midwestern daily admitted writing the column for a couple of days when the copy was lost. Former Times Editor Nick B. Williams Sr. Nowadays, astrology columns are written two months to a year in advance and usually distributed by syndicates. Editors are often at a loss to explain how one particular astrology columnist was chosen over another.

Louis Post-Dispatch, which carries Dixon. Reader loyalty to astrology columns has been borne out by marketing surveys. Another survey, done by the Minneapolis Star and Tribune in , found that astrology readers were primarily women of all ages and men over That study also found that the horoscope was among the 10 best-read columns in the paper. Most people feel inadequate to cope with the world, and astrology gives people a way of interpreting what goes on. So it becomes a boost for people.

Professional astrologers say the columns publicize astrology but give an inaccurate impression of what it really is. Robert Hand of Cape Cod, Mass. Sun sign astrology makes it look like we treat all people as one of 12 types. A group of 45 scientists, called the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal--including astronomer Carl Sagan, psychologist B. Skinner and biologist Steven Jay Gould--sent a letter to U. Such predictions have no reliable basis in scientific fact. Aside from a few letters, the paper did not get the negative reaction feared, Connor added.

A favorite disclaimer among astrologers is one Righter submits with every column he writes, although some papers delete it.