Humans and Health

Zodiac Signs: Making Choices

A mural of the Zodiac wheel
Ella Pilson

As I get older, I seem to be becoming more and more like the characteristics of my zodiac sign – a Gemini. Innate solitary nature: check, like routine: check, indecision: check. But is this the same for everyone? Is there any actual real meaning behind these star signs and their accuracy in denoting our perfect relationships?

This all started with the ancient Greeks, and their use of astrology – the study of the alignment of the stars, planets and celestial bodies to understand the universe.

From here, it spread elsewhere, our European system based on birth charts differing from that of India or China who focus on the energies around us and the life cycle.

The twelve zodiac signs are: Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn.

These are then further subdivided into the four elements: air, fire, water and earth. Some even go as far as to include the time of day or day of the week you were born on to denote unique characteristics.

Primarily however, the month we are born in is looked at. These signs suggest certain character traits, emotions, behaviour and thinking we may develop. Not just our compatibility in relationships but also career prospects, successes and challenges we may face.

Thus, it has been around for centuries and while some may feel it’s time for it to retire and are strongly against using these to inform our lives, there is some scientific reasoning behind why it is appealing to so many people. 

Psychologists call this the “Barnum effect”, which refers to people’s tendency to find personal meaning in general statements out of a desire to feel connected to something bigger than themselves or create a sense of control in an unpredictable world. 

Therefore, making us susceptible to accept these beliefs and its application to our own situations even though we may have evidence to contradict it and applies much more generally. 

That embedded connection with the cosmos, a coincidence we cannot explain,  that little bit of magic in your day to day life.

Psychologists also explain the concept of ‘subjective validation’: that if we expect to see connections between two stimuli or events, we are often able to find them even if they’re not really there. 

And it seems that we are real suckers for this sense of purpose and meaning; according to a 1999 study, “horoscope” and “astrology” were the two most searched topics on the internet

A double blind study was completed by Shawn Carlson 1985 to test the validity of astrology once and for all. Twenty-eight astrologers from the US and Europe were chosen. 

Their objective being to test their ability to extract information about their participants from the positions of celestial objects viewed at the time of their participant’s births. 

They came to the conclusion that astrology is no better than luck or chance. Thus, it cannot be relied upon.

However, I have to admit astrology in itself, combining that of art and science does make it much more appealing to the often clinical and stripped back nature of scientific study. 

And whilst its unpredictability can be misleading, it may help you identify desirable traits in the other person or find a comparable lifestyle that suits you. 


Ultimately, nothing ever fits neatly in a box and the same goes for love – its unpredictability and unfathomable nature has become the centre of literary works and discussions for centuries.

Nevertheless, according to astrologer Roger Gonzales whilst the science behind may be unpredictable, that’s not to say it is stupid and should be ignored. Instead, we should decide for ourselves how far we would like to interpret these readings and predictions. 

You wouldn’t be the only one if you have used these signs to make some decisions, notable figures of the past such as  Pope Leo X and Paul III always relied on astrologers for advice, or monarchs using in their decision-making from war to the suitability of a marriage match. 

The same goes for Julius II who chose his coronation date astrologically. And as some studies have shown, there is no harm in a bit of positive and wishful thinking. 

This can be seen in the ‘placebo effect’many people feeling better in reading their horoscope and believing its advice. Not because of any desirable outcome or the astrology itself but rather with the way people perceive it. 

That embedded connection with the cosmos, a coincidence we cannot explain,  that little bit of magic in your day to day life. Starstruck. 

Thus, whilst these definitely cannot be trusted to dictate our life choices, explain our behaviours, personalities and decisions in totality, there are many other aspects to take into account like our upbringing, environment and the habits that we develop over time. 

It remains an enticing idea and its commercialisation has definitely grown; our zodiacs pasted onto notebooks, engraved in silver necklaces or sewn into beaded charms. 

We identify with having that deeper feeling of connection with the universe, a sense of security and belonging. 

And each of us, in some way, can find something identifiable within our signs. See here for more information on your zodiac sign. 

Ella Pilson

Featured image courtesy of Josh Rangel via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.  

In-article image 1 courtesy of @MaxineLuzia via No changes were made to this image.

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