Does a full moon actually affect people’s behavior?

- Asks Sue from Long Island, N.Y.

Is the moon making us crazy? [Credit: Stelios Kiousis.]
By | Posted March 31, 2008
Posted in: Ever Wondered?, Life Science
Tags: , ,

I admit that New Yorkers are not known for their superior driving ability, but on this one night the drivers seemed especially erratic. People kept cutting me off. One guy sped right through a red light, barely missing a collision with the crossing traffic. And some genius, perhaps British but probably not, forgot that in this country we drive on the right side of the road.

I thought about what made this night particularly favorable for lunatic drivers compared to any other. It wasn’t St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s or very late at night, so drunk driving didn’t seem to fit. Only when I got out of my car and looked up did I conceive a possible explanation: the full moon.

The legend of the full moon’s effects on human behavior has existed for centuries, popularized by the myth of the werewolf. The words “lunacy” and “lunatic” are derived from the same Latin root that gives us the word “lunar,” as people often attributed intermittent insanity to the phases of the moon. While many people believe the full moon influences behavior, scientific studies have found very little evidence supporting the “Lunar Effect.”

In 1978, University of Miami psychologist Arnold Lieber wrote the book The Lunar Effect: Biological Tides and Human Emotions. He argued that the moon influences day-to-day behavior and concluded that homicides increased during the full moon after analyzing Miami’s crime records. Similar crime studies during that same time period, however, found no such relationship.

Then, in 1986, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada combined the results of about 100 studies and found “no causal relationship between lunar phenomena and human behavior.” They discovered statistical flaws in many of the papers that claimed to find such a link. They even reanalyzed Lieber’s homicide data and found no correlation.

More recently, numerous studies have been conducted by intrigued researchers, with most attempts to blame the moon for everything from suicides to vomiting after surgery coming up empty.

So with all this evidence to the contrary, what makes the full moon lunacy theory still so popular? Perhaps it’s the media, who know people are more likely to read a crime story if some police officer blames it on the moon. Or maybe people just want to hold onto an urban legend that’s been around for hundreds of years.

A more scientific answer may be selective memory. If some bizarre murder or car accident occurs, people are probably more likely to remember it if it happened during the night of a full moon.

After reading up on some studies — including one from the authority on this topic, the University of Saskatchewan — I’ve decided that the full moon was not responsible for my experience on the road that night. Perhaps I selectively forgot the thousands of other times I encountered lunatic motorists. Though I have no scientific evidence to prove it (just years of experience), I’m going with the theory that New Yorkers are just really bad drivers.

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  1. Last 5 yrs me and my family are living under terror of moon. LITERALLY. Before that i use to love the sight of moon, would like to take it pictures and sing songs on moon, but since last 5 yrs i just hate moon. You wanna know why? Because 2-3 days prior to full moon or no moon, some thing terrible, unnatural, unexpected happens with us. Either there is tense situation at home, or my wife is total anger mood from 6.00 in morning to 2-3 days, if we try to control our emotions and avoid getting angry, then some home appliance gets automatically damaged, our meter would catch fire, my car meets with accident, and there is a long list. But yes, it happens always, always, always just prior to full moon or no moon. I get terrified looking at calender then these days starts approaching. And believe me its not by chance, am keeping record and observing the same thing since 5 long years, but cannot do anything about it. WHY THE HELL GOD MADE MOON

    Agro India, January 23, 2016 at 1:27 pm
  2. There is absolutely an effect with the full moon. Cause in Islam our prophet ordered us to fast for 3 days of every month on the days of the full moon (the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the lunar month).


    AB, January 23, 2016 at 11:15 pm
  3. So what is the solution….??

    Mukta paul, January 24, 2016 at 12:59 am
  4. Parasites breed during full moon. They are active and lay more eggs in our bodies. That is the reason we are not ourselves during that time.

    The solution is to start a long term parasite cleansing. The internet has thousands of articles on parasites in humans (we all have them).

    They love sugar and starches, but hate fresh green food and coconut oil. There are many parasite cleanse supplements available in health stores. A parasite cleanse can last up to three years.

    Good luck.

    Annette, January 27, 2016 at 6:28 am
  5. The full moon makes people moody, more aggressive, and changes their behavior. This is because the gravitational pull on this specific period changes direction temporarily. It changes the way our body fluids (water, not blood flow) move, changing the way we think. This is mostly obvious in people with disabilities like ADHD or ASD. The wave in the sea also change direction too.

    Mya, January 28, 2016 at 11:48 am
  6. thank you :) I needed this for a project LOL.

    Jacob, February 14, 2016 at 10:07 am
  7. I totally believe there is a correlation to the full moon and human behavior. My personal experience has always shown that the couple days before, and especially the day of the full moon two things always happen. First, the attitudes of my wife and myself are always on edge about everything. This can and does lead to frequent heated verbal altercations. The second thing actually is adverse to the first, we get more “attracted” to each other (if you get my drift) than we usually are. Lol! I guess that this shows that there is a silver lining to every cloud. Don’t get me wrong, there is no lack between us on the romantic side, that explains the kids lol, but it definitely gets stronger during the full moon. On a different note, when I was single, the full moon made the bar nights more productive actually. Which coincidently isn’t how I met my wife. That was a true blessing. A blessing still going after 16 years. I’m just saying I do believe the full moon changes us, regardless of the studies.

    James R.S., September 16, 2016 at 1:49 am
  8. I do believe there is a conection with the moon and the way people behave. I am a nightnurse in a care home for people with dementia and other head injuries. I have noticed that people become more aggressive and restless (even other nurses become more stressed and moody)on full moon nights. I was wondering is there a difference in the air pressure on full moon nights than other nights? Does the air pressure difference effect the people that have brain injury, dementia or just a certain type of brain? After all a slight change in air pressure can change a boiling point on a kettle. Be intresting to know if this is the case with full moon “madness” :-)

    Charlie, October 18, 2016 at 2:48 pm
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