The Prophecy that Never Fails: On the Uses and Gratifications of Horoscope Reading

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Several studies have revealed the growing popularity of astrology columns, which has brought astrology to a mass level never in its long history enjoyed before. The widespread exposure of astrology columns in newspapers and magazines is studied in the present research, according to the “uses and gratifications” approach originally developed by mass communication scholars, in an attempt to reveal the need gratified by them. Using different anxiety scales and measures of horoscope usage–exposure, regularity, and acceptance—the possible sets of relations between anxiety level, fatalism, and horoscope use are tested following the log‐linear procedure. The results only partially confirm the hypothesis: exposure and regularity of readership are shown to be significantly related to several anxiety dimensions, while acceptance of horoscope predictions is related to locus of control, but not directly to anxiety. Finally, the compatibility of horoscopes to the readers' needs is analyzed by the elements of contents, social setting of exposure, and the medium's attributes. This study supports a claim of the uses and gratifications approach, which sees modern media encroaching upon older means of satisfaction of social and psychological needs. Fulfilling this function, horoscopes are the prophecies that never fail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-290
Number of pages17
JournalSociological Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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