According to a Gallup poll, 28 per cent of women admit to regularly consulting their horoscopes, compared with 23 per cent of men. A similar poll from 2009 found that women were twice as likely as men to consult a psychic.
Science writer Yohana Desta has looked at the statistics and come to the conclusion that women are more drawn to horoscopes because, historically, we have had the least control over our destiny.
While psychologist Dr Phil Zuckerman suggests that “since men tend to globally dominate roles associated with power and privilege, women look for psychological comfort and institutional support.” In other words, we haven’t been socialized to believe that we can ever be in charge of what happens to us. So when life takes a turn for the worse, we look to the stars for evidence that we’re going to be OK.
Marketing Professor Dr Gad Saad explains it’s down to a phenomenon called the Barnum effect – once we’re reading a horoscope, we’ve already committed to believing, so we’re prepared to apply the broadest and most general statements to our personal lives.
“The concept of destiny can’t be proved or disproved, and horoscopes are usually so general that they’re impossible to falsify,” he explains.
He adds that it’s connected with where our locus of control is located. This is a term psychologists often apply to people dealing with a challenge in their life. If you believe you can control the outcome and can influence your situation, you have an internal locus of control. If you think that you have no control and your fate is out of your hands? You have an external locus of control.