Testing astrological predictions about sex, marriage, and selfishness

Citation metadata

Author: Charles S. Reichardt
Date: Spring 2010
From: Skeptic (Altadena, CA)(Vol. 15, Issue 4)
Publisher: Skeptics Society & Skeptic Magazine
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,099 words
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YOUR SEX DRIVE DEPENDS ON YOUR ZODIAC SIGN. AT least that's what www.astrology-online.com claims. For example, astrology-online says that people born under the sign of Aries are "liable to have a high sex drive," those born under the sign of Leo have "unlimited sexual lust," and those born under the sign of Taurus are "more than averagely amorous." In contrast, those born under the sign of Virgo are said to engage in love making that is "a perfection of technique rather than the expression of desire, and they must be careful not to mate with a partner whose sex drive requires a passion they cannot match," and those born under the sign of Pisces are said to be "sexually delicate, in the extreme almost asexual, and most Pisceans would want a relationship in which the partner's mind and spirit rather than the body resonated with their own." Below, I report the results of empirical tests of these and other astrological claims, using a representative sample of 53,000 Americans.

The General Social Survey

The data for the tests of astrology come from the General Social Survey (GSS), which has been conducted either yearly or every other year from 1972 to 2008. The GSS is supported by the National Science Foundation and conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, which is affiliated with the University of Chicago. From 1972 to 1974, quota sampling was used to select the individuals in the sample. Both quota and random sampling were used in 1975 and 1976. Starting in 1977, the samples were selected at random. In the early years, about 1,500 people were interviewed in each wave of data collection. In recent years, the sample size has fluctuated from 2,000 to 4,500 respondents per wave. Across all the years, the GSS contains data from 53,000 American adults.

The GSS contains responses to hundreds of questions ranging from basic demographics (including zodiac sign) to controversial social attitudes (such as opinions about gun control and abortion). Some questions (called permanent questions) are asked every time the survey is administered. Other questions (called rotating questions) are asked periodically. And some questions (called occasional questions) are asked on only a single wave. In addition, some of the questions are asked of only a randomly selected portion of a sample so as to reduce the burden on respondents. The results that I report below are aggregated across all years for which data are available. Because of its high quality and breadth of coverage, the GSS data set has been the basis for hundreds of academic articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Sex Drive

Since 1989, the GSS has included a question asking respondents, "About how often did you have sex during the last 12 months?" If individuals born under certain zodiac signs have substantially different sex drives, as implied by the quotations from astrology-online that were given above, responses to this GSS question should differ substantially across the zodiac signs. This prediction can be tested by cross-tabulating the responses to the question...

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Source Citation

Source Citation
Reichardt, Charles S. "Testing astrological predictions about sex, marriage, and selfishness." Skeptic [Altadena, CA], vol. 15, no. 4, 2010, p. 40+. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A228905559