Humans have long been fascinated by the moon, but why? 🌛🌝🌜
Research has shown that the moon can influence certain animals, and thus many thought that it could influence human behaviour too (1,2,3). In fact, the latin words luna, for “moon”, and lunaticus, for “of the moon” or “moonstruck”, are at the origin of the derogatory qualifier “lunatic” as it was believed that the moon could temporarily make people do mad things. Why? It was also believed that the brain’s moistness could make it more susceptible to the moon’s pull (4,5,6,7,8).
But can the full moon really affect human biology or behaviors?
Research shows that there is no increase in psychiatric or trauma hospital admissions (9,10,11,12), births (13,14), emergency calls (15), or homicide (16) during a full moon, than during any other moon phases (17,18,19).
Some studies found that a full moon might have an effect on sleep quality and duration (20,21,22,23), blood pressure (24,25), crime (26), and motorcycle accidents (27) as well as impact people living with bipolar disorder (28,29). However, these studies have important limitations, such as a small sampling size, a poor design, confounding variables, etc. (7,19).
Overall, scientists have not established a significant correlation between moon phases and human biology or behavior. But still, the belief in lunar influence persists (7,8,30). Why is that?
- People might choose to rely on superstition during uncertainty as it can provide a sense of control, comfort, and reduce anxiety (31).
- People might fall into what we call illusory correlations, which is mistakenly linking unrelated events due to selective selective attention and memory bias (19,32,33).
- People might have a confirmation bias, selectively seeking and remembering information that supports their existing belief (33,34).
While there is no strong evidence that the moon affects human behaviors like it does other animals, it still seems to be a source for misinformation. Be careful!