Mythbusters: does your Star Sign affect your personality?

Our resident mythbuster Jack Coles looks to the stars to find answers

27th February 2017

It may come as no surprise to you that I am a Scorpio; after all, I am a tall, short, male woman that is highly emotional and analytical that may or may not believe that the zodiac has all or some or no influence on our lives and/or deaths. I hope that the astrologers on page 16 don’t read this, but then again, they are Capricorns, so they may find it amusing or perplexing or infuriating.

The way a horoscope is written is vague enough for it to apply to many people that read it without it being too striking for it to be remembered as being untrue a month later. “You will meet a stranger bringing you a unique opportunity” could be anything from a job offer to a dodgy ket deal. Furthermore, if a person does believe that their horoscope will come true, then they will take steps (while consciously or unconsciously) to ensure that it takes place. Confirmation bias mixed with a placebo effect. It’s the first episode of BBC’s Dirk Gently all over again.

Essentially, astrology is like palmistry or tea-leaf reading; fun if you’re into that sort of thing, but ultimately has no useful information on what will actually come to pass. Your starsign has no provable effect on you. Counterintuitively, though, the time of year at which you were born does seem to have a slight influence upon your life, although it doesn’t have anything to do with the relative orbit of Mars or the brightness of Sirius A. No, the reasons are much more mundane: term times and seasonal changes.

Some studies have shown that people born in September through to December (in selected European countries) are more likely to be high achievers than people born in other months, especially during the summer. It is thought that this is because children born in September are nearly a year older than their colleagues born in August , and so have almost an extra year’s worth of brain development before school. On the other hand, those born in later school months are more likely to be more creatively-inclined in later life.

"Astrology is fun if you're into that sort of thing, but ultimately has no useful information on what will actually come to pass"

Statistical analysis carried out by Columbia University found out that birth month can also impact your health. People born in May are more likely to be generally healthier. People born in March, however, are markedly more likely to develop heart disease, while those born in November have a higher risk of ADHD. It’s important to recognise, however, that the impact here is much smaller than that of diet or exercise; just because you were born in May, doesn’t mean that you are an immortal that metabolises cholesterol like a waste disposal unit at McDonald’s.

Temperament is also partially affected by birth month. People born in winter months are statistically more pessimistic but less irritable, while those born in spring or summer months are more positive but more prone to mood swings. Autumn babies are balanced, and have a resistance to developing depression. It is thought that these effects are due to Seasonal Affective Disorder causing a range of biochemical changes in the mother, and these affect the developing foetus.

The month in which you were born (or your starsign, I guess) can affect your personality. But it’s worth recognising that you are the one that decides if it will have any impact.

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