Friday, February 3, 2012

Raving Lunatics:Does the Full Moon Affect Behavior?

People tend to look for reasons for the unexplained.  I have heard all my life that people act “crazier” around the full moon. The question at issue is do people really act peculiar around the full moon?   Supposedly, police stations get more criminals, hospitals see more bizarre scenarios, mental hospital patients need to be sedated, and the weirdness just comes out of people. I work at a liquor store and even I thought we had more people come in and act a tad insane on a full moon. There have been a few times that my boss has had to call the cops for a customer having aggressive behavior in the store on a full moon.  Could we just be looking for a reason for observing odd behavior? Does the full moon have an effect on behavior?  I will fully admit to myself that before I did this research I had an implication that if there is a full moon outside, than peoples’ moods would be more erratic.  My first theory was being that  the moon is full; it was possible that gravity “pulled” neurotransmitters or something like that which causes people to act differently.  Unfortunately, there is no information on this personal theory.
After researching this question, there was very little evidence supporting the claim that the full moon effects behavior.  Some information was found to support the claims. Tasso & Miller (1976) explained that rape, theft, assault, intoxication, disorderly conduct, and larceny were more frequent during the night of the full moon.  The researchers looked up criminal records that happened in a large city for one year.  One crime that was not consistent with the moon phase was homicide.  Most people would read this and look at it as proof. This study was conducted in 1976, and was never replicated.  This means that other researchers who tried to replicate this study did not find the same evidence. 
Frey, Rotton, & Barry  (1979) tried to replicate the original findings from the first article in 1979.  Their findings could not replicate the original study.  There was no significance between the full moon and human behavior.  They stated that if people such as police officers believe that they will arrest more people on a full moon, then they will act on that conclusion.  McLay, Daylo, & Hammer (2006) found no association between moon phases and psychiatric or emergency room admissions. 
My interpretation of this phenomena is if people consciously note the full moon at night and assume that people will act more peculiar than usual, then they will seek out to observe odd behavior.  This was also stated in the two articles that debunked behavior during the full moon.  There are many legends and myths about werewolves.  It is possible that we have embedded  infatuation with these mythical creates into our everyday human behavior.  According to research, there are no correlations between human behavior and the moon phases and it is just our imagination. 

Frey, J., Rotton, J., & Barry, T. (1979). The effects of the full moon on human behavior: Yet  another failure to replicate. Journal Of Psychology: Interdisciplinary And Applied103(2),  159-162.

McLay, R. N., Daylo, A. A., & Hammer, P. S. (2006). No Effect of Lunar Cycle on Psychiatric Admissions or Emergency Evaluations. Military Medicine, 171(12), 1239-1242.

Tasso, J., & Miller, E. (1976). The effects of the full moon on human behavior. Journal Of  Psychology: Interdisciplinary And Applied, 93(1), 81-83.


  1. Very interesting article. I can contest to the idea that people have more erratic behaviors around the full moon. I have a brother with autism. While his mood most of the time is unpredictable, my family and I have noticed a consistent pattern with his behavior and the full moon. During the full moon, his behavior becomes more aggressive and uncontrollable. Now that could be a series of random consequences, but I feel that people with various mental disabilities, like my brother, are more in tuned with nature and are much more sensitive to little changes. These can range from change in seasons to the shifting phases of the moon. It is a very interesting idea.

  2. I want to play devils advocate... would it be safe to say that when a Blue moon does occur, people are even crazier because it happens less often?