Dieting? Then Don’t Read Your Horoscope!

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Reading Your Horoscope on Diet is a Bad Idea.

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By Nicole Buckler

Most major newspapers publish daily horoscopes, and for good reason–even when we deny being superstitious, human nature drives us to believe in our own fate.

We all love reading our stars, despite what we tell others. In fact here at the Almanac, we know from our own website statistics that you are all obsessed with your horoscope, but you will never share your obsession on your social media.

Yes, that’s right, we know about you. You are all creeping on your own horoscope. And we know from our web stats that the Taurean page is hit the most! We don’t know who you are individually, obsessive Taureans, but we know what star sign you are. And you hit your horoscopes harder than any other sign.

Here’s something interesting about people who believe fate can be altered: Once you read a bad horoscope about yourself, you won’t stay on the straight and narrow. You will go out and impulsively misbehave, just to prove the horoscope wrong. And if you are on a diet, this means that you will have that chocolate doughnut. And then you will have another. Then you will have a doughnut inside a doughnut. Which is then sprinkled with doughnuts.

But if you believe that your fate is fixed, and you can’t change fate, then you will not challenge the projected outcome of your day. You will go home, be good, and probably eat broccoli. Spinkled with broccoli.

Let’s say your are an Aries (the most impulsive person of the horoscope and you know it.) Your horoscope says you will have a bad day today because the accountant at work has taken all your wages and gone on a bender to the casino. If you think you are in control of your destiny, you won’t say, “Looks like today will be bad. I’m going home to do beneficial yoga and eat good bacteria.” Oh no, you will say, “Damn today is NOT going to SUCK, screw this bad horoscope, I’m going to prove it wrong by going to the pub and then I am going to put my face into a chocolate kebab.”

The boffins behind the study Hyeongmin Kim (of Johns Hopkins University), Katina Kulow, and Thomas Kramer (both University of South Carolina), say: “Given the prevalence of horoscopes in Western cultures, we looked at the influence one’s horoscope might have on the decisions that person makes. In one study, participants were presented with an unfavourable horoscope and then asked to choose between either an indulgence (going to a party) or a virtuous alternative (cleaning their home). The results showed that for people who believe they could change their fate, an unfavourable horoscope increased the likelihood of that person going to the party.”

Interestingly, participants who believed in a fixed fate did not exert any mental energy on the subject, and were consequently able to stay focused on the day ahead.

“For people who believe they can change their fate, an unfavourable horoscope should result in an attempt to improve their fate,” the authors conclude. “Our results showed that reading an unfavourable horoscope actually has the opposite effect on a person.”

The authors’ findings may be of particular interest to brands selling indulgent products like chocolates, ice cream, or cake. Advertising in close proximity to the horoscope section and using slogans like “Life is what you make of it!” may be a good strategy for reaching consumers who believe their fate can be altered.

Anyway, about that doughnut inside a doughnut…

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