Why do people believe in astrology?

‘If you chose Pile 1, I have great news! An ex-lover or a past life connection will come back to you!’

If you have been scrolling through TikTok lately, you’ve probably come across those tarot readings videos on your FYP (For You Page- in other words, your feed). Those so-called tarot readers, lightworkers, witches or however they call themselves, will perform all kinds of tricks, some majestic, others not-so-impressive. Sometimes they claim to see your future; other times, they will attempt to judge your compatibility with your ‘soul mate’ or ‘twin flame’ based on your zodiac sign. If you are unfamiliar with the lingo, a ‘soul mate’ refers to either a romantic or platonic connection. A ‘twin flame’ is your other half.

You will be surprised to see the amount of interaction these videos get. Some videos get over a thousand views in under an hour, with new followers subscribing to their channel each day. Whether these astrologers are making bank from these videos is another story. Mind you, people are even buying crystals or other astrology-related products. I have even seen people on the internet booking private tarot readings. It is a booming industry.

‘My boyfriend is a Capricorn; that’s why he tends to leave me on read.’

First of all, what is astrology? I guess there are different ways to approach the subject. I’m no astrology buff, but whenever I hear the word ‘astrology,’ my mind goes automatically to the twelve zodiac signs.

Your zodiac sign, also called the star sign, indicates the sun’s position on your date of birth. It is supposed to have a strong influence on your personality and can reveal insights into your behaviour. Your zodiac sign is usually based on the date and month of your birth. For example, if you are born on March 27, you are an Aries. If you want to take a deeper look into your personality, you can calculate your whole birth chart by plugging in your exact time and date of birth. Popular websites to generate your birth chart include Cafe Astrology or AstroSeek.

Now the question is, why are people clinging to this ‘divine’ information? What are they getting from it and why are they blindly believing all of this?

Is this a generational thing or just an innocent trend? Ever since Covid-19 hit, horoscopes have become increasingly popular, especially among Gen ‘Z’ who have been trying to figure out if the pandemic will ever end. When you think of it, it is almost impossible to avoid an astrology meme on any social media platform. Even my twitter home page is flooded with monthly zodiac predictions, with people believing that love is written in the stars!

Falling Prey to the Barnum-Forer effect

Like MBTI personality tests, people nowadays seem to enjoy customized evaluations based on their date of birth. Here’s the thing, astrology can be super vague and unreliable. After all, it is not backed by scientific evidence. A study called the Barnum Effect can be used to analyze how people respond to astrology. According to psychology, the Barnum Effect refers to the gullibility of people for believing a personalized message that could easily apply to anyone. An example would be ‘You like to help people, that’s why you are so likeable.’

Although these messages do not prove anything, some people still find comfort in them. Perhaps, they are just looking for something to believe in, or seeking narratives to justify their past or present behaviours. It validates their sense of self, making them feel better about themselves.

Life can also be unpredictable and overwhelming if you do have a sense of direction. Just like people turn to religion, astrology is another gateway to look for guidance. For the younger generation, astrology has become very accessible because of the internet. At a young age, it is normal to feel lost and not knowing where you stand. Clinging to astrology can be a coping mechanism when dealing with anxiety or stress.

Whatever the reason behind the belief in astrology, we cannot deny its growing influence. However, how long its impact will last still remains uncertain.

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