The Validity of Astrological Theory as Applied to Personality, with Special Reference to the Angular Separation between Planets

Startup, Michael Jonathan. 1984. The Validity of Astrological Theory as Applied to Personality, with Special Reference to the Angular Separation between Planets. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (The Validity of Astrological Theory as Applied to Personality, with Special Reference to the Angular Separation between Planets)
thesis_Startup_1984.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (32MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Astrology claims that personality varies with the birth positions of the planets within three main frameworks: the ecliptic circle of the zodiac "signs", the diurnal circle of the "houses", and the "aspectual" framework of the angular separations between pairs of planets. While considerable research has already been devoted to investigating the first two of these frameworks, the aspectual has been rather neglected. Thus, the research reported in this thesis pays particular attention to this framework, though gaps in the research on the other two are also investigated. The research employs a sample of 911 subjects and uses Eysenck's EPQ and Cattell's 16 PF as measures of personality.

Introductory chapters of the thesis discuss the popularity of astrology in the twentieth century, the psychology of belief in astrology, and previous research into, and the scientific status of, astrology.

Astrological doctrines concerning the angular separations between planets were investigated in a series of four studies. In the first, a group of astrologers was asked to specify how personality varies with specific angular separations - called "aspects" - between 32 pairs of planets and these predictions were tested against the data. In the second, a comparison of the traditionally categorised "soft" and "hard" aspects was made using multivariate methods, while the fourth study ignored the traditional categorisation into aspects and non-aspects and simply looked for any effect of angular separation. The third study was an attempted replication of a previous finding showing support for the 108th harmonic of the aspectual circle. No evidence of the validity of astrological ideas was found in any of these studies.

Evidence that personality varies with the positions of some of the planets in the diurnal framework has already been obtained but most of it is confined to eminent individuals. Therefore, a second series of two studies was designed to test for similar effects with ordinary people. The first of these studies tested 23 predictions concerning the personality correlates of planets placed in the Gauquelins' "key sectors" at birth. Only three of these predictions were supported and the results for two of these were only marginally significant. However, all three effects had been found on at least two previous occasions. The second study investigated whether personality varies in any manner according to the positions of the planets in 12 diurnal sectors. The rationale for this was drawn from a new analysis of some data published by the Gauquelins. This analysis shows that personality varies continuously with the diurnal positions of the planets. With personality questionnaires, however, significant results were only obtained for the sun. These suggest that personality varies on at least four dimensions according to the time of day CD of birth.

A third group of studies was devoted to two topics related to the signs of the zodiac. Firstly, the doctrine that personality varies with the signs occupied by the planets was tested. The only reliable result was one showing that people born with the sun in a "positive" sign tend to score higher on extraversion than those with the sun in a "negative" sign. This effect has been obtained several times previously but there have also been several failures to replicate it. Therefore a meta-analysis of most of the existing studies of this effect was undertaken. It was found that the effect can be reliably obtained though no influences from the sun need be invoked to explain it. It appears to be of the nature of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


personality, astrological theory, zodiac signs, diurnal circle of the houses, aspectual framework, angular separations between planets



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2020 13:52

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 15:46


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)