Anda di halaman 1dari 3

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:

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.


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,


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,



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.


Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NY: Ertbaum.

Chico, E., & Lorenzo-Seva, U. (2006). Belief in astrology inven- tory: Development and validatien. Psychological Reports. 99, 851-863.

Dean, G., & Kelly, I. W. (2003). Is astrology relevant to con- sciousness and psi? Journal of Consciousness Studies. 70(7), 175-198.

Dean, G., Nias, D. K. B., & French, C. (1997). Graphology, as- trology and parapsychology. In H. Nyborg (Ed), The scien- tific study of human nature: Tribute to Hans J. Eysenck

(pp.42-60). London, OK: Elsevier.

Ertel, S., & Dean, G. (1996). Are personality differences be- tween twins predicted by astrology? Personality and Individ- ual Differences. 27(3), 449-454.

Eysenck, H. J. & Nias, D .K. B. (1982). Astrology: Science or Superstition? New York, NY: St Martin's.

Hamilton, M. (1995). Incorporation of astrology-based person- ality information into long-term self-concept. Journal of So- cial Behaviour and Personality. 10, 707-718.

Hamilton, M. (2001 ). Who believes in astrology? Effect of favor- ableness of astrologically derived personality descriptions on acceptance of astrology. Personality and Individual Dif- ferences. 31, 903-914.

Hartmann, P., Reuter, M., & Nyborg, H. (2006). The relationship between date of birth and individual differences in personal- ity and general intelligence: A large-scale study. Personality and Individual Differences. 40(7), 1349-1362.

Kelly, I. W. (1997). Modern astrology: A critique. Psychological Reports. 81, 1035-1066.

Kelly, I. W. (1998). Why astrology doesn't work. Psychological Reports. 82(2), 527-546.

MacGregor, M. M. (2011). Rules for finding how to sueeeed in soeiety. friendship, marriage and business. Whitefish, MO:


McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1987). Validation of the five-fac- tor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journalof Personality and Social Psychology. 52(1), 81-90.

Mayo, J., White, O., & Eysenck, H. J. (1978). An empirical study of the relation between astrological factors and personality. Journal of Social Psychology. 105, 229-236.

Pawlik, K., & Buse, L. (1979). Self-aftribution as a differential, psychological moderator variable: Verification and clarifica- tion of Eysenck's astrology-personality correlations. Zeitschrift fur Sozialpsychologie. 70(1), 54-69.

Perry, G. (1995). Assessing the feasibility of correlating psyeho- logieal tests with astrology. In M. Poftenger (Ed.), Astrologi- cal research methods. Vol. 1., An ISAR Anthology, (pp. 121-127). Los Angeles, CA: International Soeiety for Astro- logical Research.

Riske, K. B. (2011). Llewellyn's sun sign book: Horoscopes for everyone. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn.

Steyn, H. S. (2000). Practical significance of the difterenees in means. Journal of Industrial Psychology, 26(3), 1-3.

Stirling, S. Z. (2010). 207 7 Astrology guide nearing the portal. Las Vegas, NV: Wisdem.

Taylor, N. (2008). Construct, item and response bias across cul- tures in personality measurement (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Taylor, N., & de Bruin, G. P. (2006). Basic Traits Inventory. Jo- hannesburg: van Rooyen.

Tyson, G. A. (1984). An empirical test of the astrological theery of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 5(2),


Van Rooi], J. J. F. (1994). Introversión-extraversión: Astrology versus psychology, f^ersonality and Individual Differences. 76(6), 985-988.

Van Rooij, J. J. F. (1999). Self-concept in terms of astrological sun-sign traits. Psychological Reports, 84, 541-546.

Wunder, E. (2003). Self-aftribution, sun-sign traits, and the al- leged role of Favourableness as a moderator variable:

Long-term eftect or artifact? Personality and Individual Dif- ferences, 35, 1783-1789.

Copyright of Journal of Psychology in Africa is the property of Elliott & Fitzpatrick, Inc. and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.