Daily Bulletin


Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Wayne Petherick, Associate professor of criminology, Bond University
It's better light, not worse behaviour, that explains crimes on a full moon

It’s a full Moon on September 25.

If past months have been anything to go by, this will be accompanied by a round of public chat about how this affects human behaviour – claims of more hospital admissions and arrests, to crazy antics in children.

Beliefs in the Moon’s behavioural effects are not new and date back to ancient times. But what evidence is there that the Moon has an impact on behaviour?

As a criminologist, I look at evidence related to arrests and behaviour linked with criminal activity.

The only explanation I can see that links criminology with Moon phases is just about the practicalities of being a criminal: when it’s a full Moon, there’s more light.

Read more: Five reasons India, China and other nations plan to travel to the Moon

While somewhat dated, one of the most significant studies looking at Moon phases and linking this with behaviour is a 1985 meta-analysis – a study of the findings of 37 published and unpublished studies. The paper concludes it is not sound to infer that people behave any more – or less – strangely between Moon phases. The authors write:

Alleged relations between phases of the moon and behavior can be traced to inappropriate analyses […] and a willingness to accept any departure from chance as evidence of a lunar effect.

Two more recent studies have looked at links between criminal activity and phases of the Moon.

A study published in 2009 looked at more than 23,000 cases of aggravated assaults that took place in Germany between 1999 and 2005. The authors found no correlation between battery and the various lunar phases.

A study reported in 2016 was careful to make a distinction between indoor and outdoor crime committed in 13 US states and the District of Columbia in 2014.

The authors found no link between lunar phases and total crime or indoor crime.

But they did find the intensity of moonlight to have a substantive positive effect on outdoor criminal activity. As moon illumination increased, they saw an escalation in criminal activity.

One explanation for this finding is what is referred to as the “illumination hypothesis” – suggesting that criminals like enough light to ply their trade, but not so much as to increase their chance of apprehension.

It may also be that there is greater movement of people during lighter nights, thus providing a bigger pool of victims.

Read more: Confirmation bias: A psychological phenomenon that helps explain why pundits got it wrong

Why do some people still cling to the belief that the Moon causes criminal or other antisocial behaviour? The answer most likely lies in human cognition and our tendency to focus on that which we expect or predict to be true.

During an expected lunar event – such as a full or super Moon – we expect that there will be a change in behaviour so we pay more attention when we see it. In the area of cognitive psychology this is known as confirmation bias.

But other questions remain, including why any behavioural effects must be inherently negative? Even if there was a direct effect, explanations as to why acts of kindness and altruism do not increase or decrease during Moon phases are conspicuously absent.

It is likely that we just assume the folklore is true, and believe that we become the werewolf and not the sheep.

Authors: Wayne Petherick, Associate professor of criminology, Bond University

Read more http://theconversation.com/its-better-light-not-worse-behaviour-that-explains-crimes-on-a-full-moon-101524

Writers Wanted

$7.6 billion and 11% of researchers: our estimate of how much Australian university research stands to lose by 2024

arrow_forward

Trump's TikTok deal explained: who is Oracle? Why Walmart? And what does it mean for our data?

arrow_forward

What Australian Casinos Can Learn from Online Casinos in New Zealand

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

How To Remove Rubbish More Effectively

It can be a big task to remove household rubbish. The hardest part is finding the best way to get rid of your junk. It can be very overwhelming to know exactly where to start with so many option...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Tips To Pass Skills Certifications Tests

Developing the right set of skills is valuable not only to your career, but for life in general. You can get certified in these skills through obtaining a license. Without a certified license, y...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Secure Home-Based Entrepreneurs from Cyber Threats

Small businesses are becoming a trend nowadays. The people with entrepreneurial skills and minds are adopting home-based businesses because of their advantage and ease of working from home. But...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion