UA Professor Re-Evaluates Astrology

UA Professor Re-Evaluates Astrology

Staff Photo Nick Brothers
Jacquelyn Wiersma a UA human development and family science professor, poses next to her new book “The Zodiac Recipe.” An astrology hobbyist, Wiersma’s book invites readers to use their astrological natal charts to better understand partners, friends and themselves.

It’s probably safe to presume you’ve taken a personality quiz at one point in your life to find out how and why you are you. Be it the famous Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Gallup’s Strengths Quest, DISC Assessment, or the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory — in general, one could potentially find similar type results from all of them, e.g. stubbornness, sensitivity, creativity, rationality.

Of course, a person’s personality is dependent on numerous factors such as their genetics, parents, religion, social economic status, peers, culture and childhood. Jacquelyn Wiersma, a University of Arkansas human development and family science professor, thinks a person’s zodiac or astrological sign — the idea that stars in the sky people were born under influence them — should be a part of the conversation.

“It’s another way to understand people,” Wiersma said. “Do I think it’s 100 percent accurate? No. I find it to be just like anything else in my research. There’s a whole bunch of factors. One ingredient I think that is missing is your birthday. The only reason I say that is because across the four or five years I’ve been looking at this I’ve found astrology to be more than a coincidence.”

For the past 10 years, Wiersma has been studying human mating selection in young adults. After receiving her Ph.D in human development and family sciences at Texas Tech University and a post-doctorate at Penn State University, Wiersma was able to secure a teaching job here in Fayetteville at the UofA in 2010.

Wiersma’s research in mate selection is driven by her interest in why people select certain people as their romantic partners. In a 2010 UA study, Wiersma and her colleagues found that alcoholic drinking behavior between couples was congruent to who they were in a relationship with, suggesting that “drinking behaviors may be important when choosing a potential romantic partner, even beyond demographic similarities.”

Yet, the reason of why people choose who they do is still elusive.

“How come we’re compatible with this person, but not this person?” she said. “I think it’s interesting when you come across a person for the first time and just feel really connected to that person, find this person really cool, and still be thinking about them the next day. Yet, you could meet someone else and not think twice about them.”

That’s when Wiersma started developing astrology as a hobby, specifically looking into people’s “moon” and “ascendant” signs rather than just their “sun” signs. For example, those born between March 21 and April 21 have the “sun” sign of Aries, who are believed to have an energetic, passionate temperament. However, if a person is born on March 24 in Fayetteville at 10:50 a.m., they would have a Sagittarius moon sign, meaning they have a need for activity and freedom, according to When she started considering her friends and exes’ birthdays and respective signs, she found out that they were all born into compatible signs to hers (Aquarius), sparking further interest.

Courtesy Photo “The Zodiac Connection,” by Jacquelyn Wiersma is available through, Barnes & Nobles stores and online at for $12. The book is 175 pages.

Courtesy Photo
“The Zodiac Connection,” by Jacquelyn Wiersma is available through, Barnes & Nobles stores and online at for $12. The book is 175 pages.

Wiersma recently wrote a book about this interest, called “The Zodiac Recipe.” While not a horoscope, the book is about people’s entire natal charts, which include much more info than a person’s “sun” sign. A person’s natal chart provides information for a person’s emotional and relationship needs (moon), how a person comes across to people (Ascendant), communication style (Mercury), love style (Venus), among several other characteristics that people develop in adulthood.

Most denounce astrology as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Weirsma is a skeptic herself, and said she thinks daily horoscopes — a forecast of a person’s future based on their astrological sign — and compatibility based on sun signs aren’t worth taking seriously.

“From what I’ve read, everyone bases everything on a person’s sun sign, which I think is a load of crap,” she said. “I don’t think zodiacs tell us what we’re day-to-day going to do. I just think it tells us what kind of person we are. “

Within her book, “The Zodiac Recipe,” Wiersma provides readers with myriad information about her own relationships, politicians, famous Hollywood couples and how their compatibilities work as well as providing readers with methods to use in seeking new relationships. Just as the phrase “birds of a feather flock together,” so do certain groups of zodiac signs, Wiersma said.

As a professor, Wiersma also enjoys being able to talk with her students and see how their different signs are represented in class. For example, she found that nearly all of her students that sat at the front of the classroom were born under Gemini, who are said to be talkative communicators.

Wiersma said she hopes to one day complete a quantitative study that demonstrates the validity of compatible (or non-compatible) signs in couples. For now, there is little scientific research in regards to human mating that can prove astrology as a science, but Wiersma believes there’s more to it than the popular conception.

“I like that there’s skeptics,” Wiersma said. “Someone might be like ‘I think (astrology) is a bunch of crap,’ and you might be right, but I’m going to keep looking into it anyway. I just want them to look at it. You might find it’s more than a coincidence with your friends and family if you open your mind up to it.”

For more information about Jacquelyn Wiersma’s book, “The Zodiac Recipe,” check out Ozark Mountain Publishing at

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