Why reading your horoscope is bad for you: People who believe in star signs are more likely to be impulsive instead of virtuous
If the horoscope is your favourite page in the newspaper, then beware: the Zodiac is more than just a harmless pastime.
People who follow their stars are more likely to abandon their commitments and be self-indulgent if they're predicted to have a bad day, a study found.
It is because believers are convinced they cannot change their fate so get tempted to drop their plans, while people who don't set any store by their stars carry on as normal.
The study by Johns Hopkins University and the University of South Carolina gave people a pessimistichoroscope, then asked them to choose between going to a party or cleaning the house.
People who had said they believed in horoscopes were more likely to choose the party, while others chose the 'virtuous' option of cleaning up.
'Human nature drives us to believe in our own fate,' said the authors of the study, Hyeongmin Kim, Katina Kulow and Thomas Kramer.
They added: 'Given the prevalence of horoscopes in Western cultures, we looked at the influence one's horoscope might have on the decisions that person makes.
'Conventional wisdom might suggest that for people who believe they can change their fate, an unfavorable horoscope should result in an attempt to improve their fate.
'Our results showed that reading an unfavorable horoscope actually has the opposite effect on a person.'
For those who believed in star signs, trying to resist the unfavorable horoscope required mental resources and so left them open to temptation.
Participants who believed in a fixed fate did not exert any mental energy on the subject, so were able to stay focused on the day ahead.
The findings could be a boost to advertisers - who the authors said should promote indulgences like chocolate and ice cream on horoscope pages with slogans like 'life is what you make of it!'
The study is due to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Another study by the same lead author, published in the journal this month, revealed people who buy lottery tickets are more materialistic and have less self-control.
The researchers told one group of participants to buy a lottery ticket with a jackpot of $1 million, while a second group did not.
Participants in both groups wrote down their thoughts and indicated how much they preferred a small, immediate reward to a large, delayed reward.
The consumers who bought a lottery ticket wrote down more materialistic thoughts and saw more in the short term.
Former stock trader Arch Crawford, who predicted the 'flash crash' of 1962, openly admits having relied on horoscopes when he made his trades.
And one site, Astrology Zone, said its millions of users come from all walks of life - 43 per cent of them are university-educated and another third earn more than ?100,000 a year.（MailOnline）