Making your living as a creative can sometimes feel like being a knock-kneed marionette at the whim of an erratic puppet master. Certain mornings you will hop out of bed, motivated and filled with ideas, while other days are slow. So slow, in fact, that no amount of coffee, no jog around the block, no nail biting or head banging will fix. It’s these doldrum days where things can get desperate. The shrine that is your desk gets analyzed and rearranged to superstitious proportions while the desire for some display of magical genius to appear becomes as real as your impending deadline.
Those passionless days, although good for catching up on deep cleaning, can hinder the flow of your work week and set you back hours on your creative must-do list. But thanks to the stars, and our easily-swayed psyche, inspiration may not be far off.
According to a recent study titled “Good day for Leos: Horoscope’s influence on perception, cognitive performances, and creativity”, waking up sucked dry of positive motivation may not be so debilitating after all, and the answer lies in your horoscope.
Often thought to be a meaningless, even comical habit, horoscopes are actually influencing your productivity in profound new ways.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a crystal-carrying Pisces or a skeptical Sagittarius, your mystical forecast can, and will, impact the tone of your day—whether you like it or not. What we read under our star sign influences our outlook, emotional state and creativity levels in ways that could be highly beneficial. But be warned, as much as a positive spin can be placed on your day, so can the opposite occur.
Published by renowned science journal Elsevier, the study looked at astrology’s influence by reading individuals their horoscope and observing their perception, performance and imagination levels through three different tests, respectively. The study, led by Stanford University psychologist Magali Clobert, found that when people were read positive, uplifting astrological feedback, they tended to reflect this energy in measurable ways. The same thing happened in regards to negative horoscopes, the subject was more likely drawn to pessimistic thoughts. Interestingly enough, this effect was palpable despite individuals differing beliefs in astrology, luck, or higher powers.
“People who read positive compared to negative horoscopes tend to perform better in cognitive tasks,” the report explains. This observation only occurred when participants were exposed to the astrological forecast of their own sign, rather than someone else’s. The report also found that “participants who summarized their positive horoscope demonstrated higher creativity” than those who were asked to summarize a negative or neutral forecast.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a crystal-carrying Pisces or a skeptical Sagittarius, your mystical forecast can, and will, impact the tone of your day—whether you like it or not.”
Is the lowly horoscope a possible cure for feeling uninspired? Or could it backfire, sending you in to a drought of unoriginal thought? While it is proven that your astral forecast can in fact make you feel more creative, the reason for this phenomenon lies in your own noggin.
While focusing on the effects of positive and negative horoscope readings, the tests also kept track of people who had neurotic tendencies, as well as measuring their locus of control.
In personality psychology, locus of control refers to the extent to which people believe they can control events affecting them. Those with an external locus of control are guided by chance and fate, believing driving forces to be outside of their grasp, while those with an internal locus of control tend to believe that they are in control of their own destiny and are less likely to rely on influences from other sources.
Hand in hand with the Pygmalion effect, or self-fulfilling prophecies, how you view your own productivity and success will directly influence the creative outcome. So if the thought of possibly reading a negative horoscope makes you want to avoid the back section of your tabloid like the plague, don’t fret. This is where locus of control comes in. Even if your horoscope sounds dire, your attitude and sense of control is still the most important factor. It can be a gamble if you tend to be persuaded by the angle of furniture in your room, but if you’re already having an unproductive day, there’s nothing to lose. And you might even come out with a new muse.
Although never before tested in the realm of astrology and horoscopes, how our expectations affect an outcome is something that people come in contact with constantly. If you are told a wine is expensive, you’re more likely to enjoy it. If you think you will perform poorly in an interview, you probably will. Tricks and tips such as body language to reduce stress and breed confidence already exist, so why not the power of positive thinking induced through astrology?
With a human desire to match events and personality traits with their zodiac sign, expectations are unconsciously formed and the subject will behave consistently with their own expectations. No magic occurs, no mysterious foretelling takes place, it is simply the brain desiring to connect and find meaning.
The effects of horoscopes impacts more than our daily behaviour. How people perceive their own personality has the possibility of being affected by what they read on the inky sheets of the newspaper’s culture section.
“When people read something, especially about themselves, even if they don’t believe it, it creates some kind of expectation,” Clobert explains. “Even if you don’t think that the source is believable, you will still get an impression in your mind that you might expect [that prediction] in your day.”
“It’s really important that people are aware that reading a horoscope actually has an effect. It’s not that the horoscope is true, it’s that people themselves are making the horoscope true.”Magali Clobert, psychologist
Not everyone responds equally, however. Locus of control, personal dispositions and neuroticism all have been found to mess around with the path from expectation to reality. For example, more neurotic individuals have a tendency to check a horoscope regularly and believe in it, perhaps due to a heightened need for control.
While the appeal of astrology—sun signs, moon cycles and mercury retrogrades—falls in line with many other belief systems revolving around personality, understanding and connectivity, the fact that it can so directly affect any one who picks up the morning paper while eating breakfast or riding transit is staggering.
“It’s really important that people are aware that reading a horoscope actually has an effect,” Clobert states. “It’s not that the horoscope is true, it’s that people themselves are making the horoscope true.”
Although individuals are influenced by their horoscopes on a varying scale, one can’t deny the power they hold over the subconscious. When people are lead to believe their outcome will be good, they are more likely to jump in with confidence. So next time you have a day heavy with low motivation, try taking a look at what the stars say. You might just be pleasantly inspired.