Beyond Horoscopes: How Your Birth Date Affects Your Personality

Photographed by Geordy Pearson.
Horoscopes have been telling us for centuries that the timing of our entry into the world can determine pretty much everything about us later on. Now, it looks like there might be some data behind all that New Age thinking: Research suggests that the season we're born in could be linked to the type of personality we develop later in life.
The results, presented this week at the European College of CNP Congress, suggest there might really be a link between what time of year we're born and our personalities as adults. That is, at least if you're young, male, and in Hungary: The researchers gave a temperament survey to 366 Hungarian college students (258 men at a mean age of about 20) and matched each participant's results to his birth date and astronomically-defined season.
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Some intriguing connections turned up. First, the researchers found that those born in the summer were more likely to be cyclothymic; they displayed more rapid mood swings than those born in the winter. Participants born in spring and fall were more likely to be hyperthymic (frequently displaying a more positive attitude) than winter babies. And, those born in the winter were more likely to be depressive (compared to autumn kids) and the least likely to be irritable.
As crazy as it seems, previous research has linked birth season to everything from suicide risk to tendency to seek out novelty to the expression of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene (BDNF). The latter has itself been linked to people's individual levels of dopamine and serotonin. But, even if we are who we are because of when we were born, it's still hard to know exactly how much of an effect birth season has. And, the fact that this study used a pretty specific group of participants makes it even more difficult to generalize these results.
Because temperament and moods can be precursors to actual clinical disorders (e.g., depression), the study's authors suggest we might want to pay more attention to this whole birth-season thing. Or, for now we could just stick with investigating our birthstones.
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