Unpacking my astrological identity

Exploring the space where psychology and astrology overlap

Claudia closely identifies with the Aries sign.

My relationship with astrology is complicated. I read my horoscope both religiously and ironically, never quite convinced of the truth in astrological predictions, nor completely dissuaded from analyzing my celestial destiny.

Astrology is an ancient art that links planetary movement on the zodiac to the course of human affairs and the development of the natural world. In Western astrology, there are 12 signs of the zodiac that account for relatively equal periods of time throughout the year. 

Beyond horoscopes, astrology is about understanding the conditions of the universe at the date and time that one entered into it, so that one’s intrinsic nature as a person can be more fully understood.

I’m an Aries: a fire sign with a reputation for being strong-willed, competitive, sensitive, and stubborn. 

These characteristics aren't prescribed hard-and-fast, but rather as identifiers for possible behaviours among individuals born under each sign. Essentially, astrology accounts for why some people exhibit these characteristics more explicitly than others. 

I closely identify with the Aries sign because these behaviours have proven to be determinants of how I engage with the world.

When a friend remarked I was being over-competitive about a casual game of Monopoly, my brain immediately rationalized my behaviour with astrology. I’ve always been categorized as an  Aries to a fault, and often analyze my interactions through this lens. 

Earlier this week, while reading my horoscope, I paused to consider the origin of this association. What came first? Was my identity written in the stars, or did I subconsciously shape my identity to suit my astrological assignment?

Was my identity written in the stars, or did I subconsciously shape my identity to suit my astrological assignment?  

Luckily, I’m not alone in my curiosity about the space where psychology and astrology overlap. 

In 1994, psychologist Jan J.F. van Rooijasserts sought to answer the same questions about astrological identities informing behaviours. The study she conducted, called “Introversion-extraversion: astrology versus psychology,” assessed the astrological premise that those “born with the sun in a positive sign (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius) are extraverted and those with the sun in a negative sign (Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces) are introverted.” 

The results of this study were confirmed, but only among subjects who were aware of their star sign beforehand. This finding asserted that psychological processes such as self-attribution and selective self-observation allow the knowledge of an astrological identity to influence people’s true identity. 

In social psychology, self-attribution is the process of connecting behaviors to particular causes, whereas selective self-observation is the examination of these same aspects through a limited lens that allows the observer to find specific results.

These results suggest I’m subconsciously choosing to view my identity from a specific perspective that allows me to relate to my astrological assignment. For example, I associate myself with the Aries sign, and its competitive behaviour. It’s likely that I lean into demonstrations of competitiveness to reaffirm my belonging to this category.

Rooijasserts’ study didn’t disprove the validity of astrology, though it did offer some insight into the way people associate with their zodiac signs. 

I’m not ready to give up on astrology just yet, and will likely still offer up my astrological identity as some form of explanation for my behaviour. However, I learned to reconsider the characteristics I attribute with myself for the sake of separating my core identity from the identity that was written in the stars.

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