Negative horoscope predictions make some of us more susceptible to temptation: Study

Nadine Kalinauskas
Shine On
December 12, 2013

Horoscope readers, watch out for negative predictions. They might make you cheat on your diet.

According to a new study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, horoscope readers who believe their fate can change are more likely to "exhibit impulsive or indulgent behaviour after reading a negative horoscope."

In one experiment, study participants were presented with unfavourable predictions, then asked to choose between two activities: an indulgence (going to a party), or a virtuous task (cleaning the house).

Researchers found that the participants who believed they could change their fate were more likely to choose to go to the party. Participants who accepted fate as fixed were more likely to remain focused on daily tasks and goals and not make impulsive or indulgent choices.

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"Conventional wisdom might suggest that 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."

Why does a negative astrology reading make us more susceptible to temptation?

"One explanation is, of course, that consumers who believe in malleable fate deliberately choose to indulge to improve their day and to make themselves feel better," the authors write. "A second explanation… is consistent with the notion that assuming control over situations predicted by fate and constructing optimistic expectations for events to unfold are integral parts of beliefs in the changeability of one’s fate."

Also see: How to have a healthy holiday season

The researchers also argue that negative predictions require more mental resources to counter-argue, making those who believe they can change their fate unable to resist temptations later in the day. Those who believe in a fixed fate don't bother counter-arguing the unfavourable horoscopes, and are left with enough mental energy to stay focused on their day.

"Ego-depletion has been linked to a greater likelihood to make indulgent choices," they write.

Therefore, if you believe in a malleable fate, your diet might be at risk on bad horoscope days.

The researchers believe there are plenty of applications here for marketers. So if you see branding that tells you that "life's what you make it," now you know why.

Do you believe you can change your fate?

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