Stars in their eyes

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
October 14, 2010, 12:00 AM GMT+0

Horoscopes are a regular fixture in magazines and newspapers and many websites are dedicated to reading the stars, but how many of us actually believe them? With this is mind we asked the British public how much of a fixture in their lives the constellations really are...

  • While 39% never bother to find out what their horoscope says and 11% check less than once a year, 15% do take a peek at what is potentially in store for them as often as once a week, and 7% check every day.
  • Of the 61% who check their horoscopes, 64% do so through perusing newspapers, and 35% through magazines.
  • Only 2% of people do not know what their star sign is.

‘No grounding in reality’?

However, despite high levels of readership, most are dubious about horoscopes’ power and significance.

  • 77% suspect that horoscopes are vague statements presented in a way that makes them appear applicable to most individuals.
  • 55% think they are false predictions that have no grounding in reality, while 57% do not think horoscopes make accurate predictions about events in their lives.
  • However, the public were split over the accuracy of the personality traits ascribed to people of each star sign, with 41% agreeing that their star sign profile matches their personality – but exactly the same amount insist that is does not.
  • A light-hearted 60% think that horoscopes are harmless fun and only 5% of people admit to have let their horoscope influence a decision or action in their life.

Astral experiments

To test people’s convictions, we asked over 2,000 of our panellists to say how accurate their horoscope for the previous week and their star sign profile was, however, unbeknown to them, we showed every single person the same profile description.

  • And while 78% thought that the horoscope they were shown was not accurate, 13% thought it was – including people from across all the star signs.
  • More people were convinced by the star sign profile they were shown, with a slightly larger 39% believing the profile to be an accurate description of themselves compared to 51% who said it was not accurate.

So although we can’t tell you whether Mars is in retrograde this month or not, our data suggests that it is perhaps the a playful sense of fun, as well as the desire to hanker after a helpful hint for the future, that explains why so many so-called sceptics will continue to sneak a horoscope peek.

Survey details and full results