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Joumal of Psychology in Africa 2011, 21(3), 493-494 Printed In USA - All Rights Reserved

Copyright ©2011

Journal of Psychology in Africa

ISSN 1433-0237

Astrological Signs and Personality Differences

Renier Steyn

University of South Africa

Please address correspondence to Renier Steyn, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, PO Box 392, Unisa, 0003, South Africa. E-mail address: steynr@unisa.ac.za

This study examined the reiationship between astroiogicai signs and personaiity traits in 65 268 South African jobseekers (mean age = 24.8 years, females = 59%, Blacks = 98%). Participants compieted the Basic Traits inventory (Tayior and de Bruin, 2006). Contrastive analysis of personaiity traits by astroiogicai signs yieided no significant differences.

Keywords: Astrological signs; personality; South Africa

Until the twentieth century astrologers considered that the stars played a main role in defining human behaviour, but con- temporary psychological astrologers also emphasise the role of Jungian archetypes and psychological structures underlying dif- ferent personalities (Kelly, 1997). Astrology claims to explain typical characteristics of people born at certain times of' the year, and how people who are born at difterent times difter from each other or could complement each other (see MacGregor, 2011; Stirling, 2010; Riske, 2011).

In the social media, it is quite common to find sections dedi- cated to zodiac-related statements and predictions. Some scepticism exists, however, among researchers about the sci- entific credibility of astrological writings (see Chico & Lorenzo-Seva, 2006; Dean & Kelly, 2003; Dean, Nias & French, 1997; Ertel & Dean, 1996; Hamilton, 2001; Hartmann, Reuter, & Nyborg, 2006; Eysenck & Nias, 1982; Kelly, 1997,1998; Mayo, White, & Eysenck, 1978; Perry, 1995; Tyson, 1984; Van Rooij, 1994, 1999). Empirical research generally shows liftle support for astrology claims. Eysenck and Nias (1982), for example, state that behaviour can usually be explained befter by non-as- trological predictors. Nonetheless, many people still read astro- logical descriptions and predictions in the social media, and may also make decisions based thereupon.

magazine that does not feature some form of zodiac informa- tion, and even certain traditional healers admit to the use of astrological information when advising their patients. This sug- gests that in a non-Western context zodiac interpretations can also exert some inftuence. This study sought to answer the question whether people of difterent zodiac signs had reliable personality traits difterences.

Method

Participants and setting

Participants were 65 268 jobseekers with a South African government agency (mean age = 24.8 (SD = 3.9 years), fe- males = 59%, males = 41 %, Blacks = 98%, Whites = 2%, Zulu / Xhosa / Sepedi = ±20%, Venda / Tswana / Tsonga / Sotho = ±7%, Swati / Ndebele / Afrikaners = ±3%). All the participants had completed 12 years of schooling and were literate in Eng- lish. As part of the selection process they completed a personal- ity questionnaire under the supervision of registered psycholo- gists. The assessment was done with full compliance to the ethical guidelines of the Health Professions Council of South Af- rica and under the conditions of the Employment Equity Act, Act number 55 of 1998.

Van Rooij (1994) is of the opinion that the evaluation of the accuracy of zodiac personality descriptions in everyday life is linked to a process of selective self-observation whereby self-fulfilling biases in event observations are commonplace. For instance, an Aries person believing to be 'impulsive' will se- lectively observe impulsive behaviour in him/herself whilst con- sciously ignoring non-impulsive acts. Acquaintance with star signs could constitute an important factor in perceptions about personality traits (Eysenck & Nias, 1982). Hamilton (1995) shares the same view. Eysenck and Nias (1982) also refer to the presence of the Barnum eftect in people's appreciation of personality traits in which personality descriptions of a general and vague nature are accepted at face value. This may explain the preference of favourable characteristics described in zodiac descriptions (Hamilton, 2001; Pawlik & Buse, 1979; Wunder,

2003).

In South Africa astrology is a relatively important feature of contemporary life. It would be difticult to find a newspaper or

iUleasurement instruments

Participants completed the Basic Traits Inventory (BTI; Tay- lor and de Bruin, 2006) - a measuring instrument of personality traits. The BTI measures five core traits, namely extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness (as defined by McCrae & Costa, 1987). Taylor (2008) reports re- liability coefficients varying from a high of .94 (neuroticism) to a low of .88 (agreeableness and openness), using a South Afri- can sample. She also provides some evidence on the absence of item- and scale-level bias (Taylor, 2008).

Grouping of participants into the 12 astrological groups, ac- cording to the signs of the zodiac of Western astrology, was done following the guidelines set out in Riske (2011).

Data Analysis

After dividing participants into the 12 astrological groups the mean scores of participants, on the difterent factors of the BTI,

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were compared to determine if significant differences in person- ality occur across the astrological groupings.

A one-way between-groups ANOVA was conducted to ex- plore whether differences exist between personality traits of persons belonging to different astrological signs. Statistieal Paekage fer the Soeial Sciences (SPSS), Version 17, was used to do the ANOVA, with the personality trait total scores as de- pendent variables, and the zodiac sign of the participant as (separating) factor.

Results and Conclusion

No statistically significant difterenees were found at the p < .05 level in BTI seores for the 12 groups. The only indieation of difference was found in the openness trait: F(11, 65 256) = 1.75, p = .058. The difference in mean openness scores was quite small. The effect size, calculated using eta squared, was less than .001 (Cohen, 1988, Steyn, 2000). The post-hoc com- parison using the Scheffe's test indicated that none of the groups differed significantly as far as openness was eeneerned. The biggest difference in openness seores was between Virgo (M = 116.93, SD = 18.52) and Seerpio (M = 118.00, SD = 17.21), but even this was not significant (p = .475). It was con- cludecJ that no differences in personality exist between people based on their respective astrological signs.

This study found no evidence to support the view that astro- logical signs explained personality traits. Planetary configura- tions therefore have no behavioural ramifications for humans.

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