A study on personality has found that narcissism and low intelligence are the best predictors of a belief in astrology, the unfounded belief that big balls of gas millions of miles away are influencing your Tuesday.
Belief in astrology, the authors of the study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences note, is on the rise, for reasons that are unclear. Studies that have looked into the idea – including one conducted on 20 million people – have found no evidence in its favor. This new study investigated whether individual personality traits could predict belief in unfounded astrology beliefs.
The team collected 264 responses using an online questionnaire. The participants were assessed for belief in astrology using a shortened version of the Belief in Astrology Inventory assessment, as well as personality assessments, a specific assessment for narcissism, and a test of intelligence (using a three-dimensional rotation items test from the International Cognitive Ability Resource).
"The main result showed that the higher the narcissism, perhaps surprisingly, the higher the belief in astrology," the team wrote. "The positive association is possibly due to the self-centered worldview uniting them, though this must be examined in further research."
Though narcissism showed the strongest correlation with belief in astrology, the team also found smaller positive correlations between agreeableness and extroversion and belief in astrology. Interestingly, "the higher the level of intelligence, the lower the belief in astrology" after controlling for all variables.
As for why narcissists are more likely to believe in astrology, the team say more study is needed, though they have a few suggestions. The team noted that the participants were asked to rate the statement that astrology is supported by science, with narcissists more likely to agree with this statement, suggesting that narcissists are more "fact-resistant". As well as this, it could be that the way horoscopes are designed might make narcissists their ideal audience.
"Since astrological predictions and horoscopes tend to be positively framed, this reinforces grandiose feelings and thus might appeal even more to narcissists."
They also note that during times of stress, people tend to turn to unfounded beliefs, and so it might not be surprising that belief is rising during recent years – given the climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic.
"Though embracing astrology might seem innocent, it is nonetheless possible that it facilitates uncritical thinking and favors biases," the team write in the paper. "Further, belief in astrology correlates with belief in multiple other pseudosciences as well as with belief in conspiracy theories, which indicates that it might not be all that harmless."