Horoscope influences in people’s lives
The particularly strong effect of people’s expectations on various domains such as perception, cognitive performance, emotion, or health, has been widely documented.
For instance, prior positive (or negative) expectations about a food product have been found to increase (or decrease) the liking of the taste and the visual appeal of the product, thereby directly modifying the visual and sensorial perception of the product.
Individuals’ internalized expectations regarding their own performances have also been shown to boost or dampen objective cognitive performances. Indeed, classical work about expectations in the classroom has underlined how negative expectations about students’ performances dampen their ulterior cognitive performances and even creativity.
This effect, known as the Pygmalion effect works as a self-ful filling prophecy since a false definition of a situation (e.g., teacher’s negative expectancies) is internalized and evokes behaviors that make the prophecy true (e.g., student produces bad performances). Although some questions remain open regarding the strength of the effect of teachers’ expectancies on students’ performances, it seems clear that when students internalize these expectations the expectancy effect is stronger.
Other studies in the context of disadvantaged minority groups showed how stereotypes (e.g., women are not good at math) create expectations (e.g., women will perform poorly at a mathematical test), which can be internalized by the target of stereotypes and, in turn, affect their cognitive performances (e.g., a woman performs poorly at a mathematical test thereby confirming the stereotype.
Negative and positive expectations about performances on a given task have indeed been consistently found to dampen or boost task performance. Finally, expectations have also been shown to modulate people’s effective experience. For instance, when participants are told they will see a funny cartoon or film, they tend to experience more enjoyment when looking at the cartoon or film than participants who did not have this expectation.
Horoscopes are particularly susceptible to consciously or unconsciously shape individuals’ expectations. While it is not empirically proven that the position of planets has any influence, people continue to read horoscopes and may be affected in some way by their content. Surprisingly, little research has directly investigated the incidence of horoscopes on human behavior and cognition. One study has suggested that people’s perceptions of their personality may be affected by what they read in horoscopes.
when participants were presented with different profiles for each sign of the Zodiac, they tended to feel that the profile given for their own sign was the most similar to their personality. In the same vein, research found that people tend to match events they recently experienced with their astrological forecasts.
people are willing to match their lives with the content of their daily horoscope. Is it then the case that after reading their horoscope, people act or think in a way that creates this matching effect? We may consider that after reading their daily horoscope, people unconsciously form certain expectations regarding their upcoming day and will interpret events or behave consistently with their expectations. The expectancy effect accounts for how predictions become true; not through magic, but because people act and think consistently with the prediction.