A new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences examined whether personality traits could predict unfounded beliefs, finding that narcissism was the strongest predictor of belief in astrology. Further, intelligence was negatively associated with this belief.
There is no scientific evidence to support astrology, the practice of studying the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies to discern human behavior. Despite this, it has been increasing in popularity. Some prior research suggests there is a relationship between encountering stressors and belief in astrology. Further, belief in astrology is associated with belief in other pseudosciences and conspiracies. In this work, Ida Andersson and colleagues explored the relation between personality traits, intelligence, and belief in astrology.
A total of 264 individuals participated in this research. Participants responded to various questions assessing for belief in astrology, as well as one question probing how well participants thought astrology was supported by science. They also completed questionnaires measuring Big Five personality and grandiose narcissism. Lastly, to assess intelligence, four three-dimensional rotational items were administered, with eight possible answers for each – with only one response option being correct.
The higher participants scored on narcissism, the greater their belief in astrology. The researchers suggest this association may emerge from the self-centered worldview which unites the two. Further, the emphasis of individuality among millennials could lead to an egocentric worldview, and thus, correlate with narcissistic traits. As well, given astrological horoscopes are typically framed positively, this likely reinforces grandiose feelings, and may particularly appeal to narcissists. Further, the researchers found that agreeableness was another personality trait positively associated with belief in astrology.
Lastly, intelligence was negatively associated with this belief, such that those who scored higher on the measure of intelligence reported lower belief in astrology.
The authors note several limitations. Given there was limited control over who could partake in the survey, selection bias may have been introduced into the sample. Relatedly, it is unclear how much the participants knew about astrology. As well, the overwhelming majority of participants were young women, suggesting these findings may not generalize to other populations. Lastly, some of the reported effects were small, which leaves room for false positives, and the influence of other variables beyond individual differences.
The study, “Even the stars think that I am superior: Personality, intelligence and belief in astrology”, was authored by Ida Andersson, Julia Persson and Petri Kajonius.