QuickCheck: Does the full moon affect our behaviour?

FROM werewolves transforming under a bright and full moon, to rising criminal activity, and even in Shakespeare’s "Othello", the full moon has gotten quite a dangerous rep over the years.

In fact, the word "lunatic" originally meant madness caused by the moon as the Latin word for the moon is luna.

This concept has deep roots in folklore and has been perpetuated in various cultures for centuries and has been passed down through generations.

Is there truth to this claim?



In reality, studies have failed to find a consistent correlation between the lunar cycle and human behaviour.

The idea that the moon impacts certain aspects of physical and mental health can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome when philosopher Aristotle and historian Pliny the Elder suggested their theories.

Belief in the "lunar lunacy effect," or "Transylvania effect" persisted in Europe through the Middle Ages.

This belief is, however, more likely an illusory correlation. When there is a full moon and something odd happens, people usually notice it, tell others about it and remember it. This happens because such co-occurrences fit with their preconceptions.

Following the theories, the full moon’s supposed effects on behaviour arise from its influence on water. The human body, after all, is about 80% liquid.

But there are at least three reasons why this explanation doesn’t hold water:

1. The gravitational effects of the moon are far too minuscule to generate any meaningful effects on brain activity, let alone behaviour.

2. The moon’s gravitational force affects only open bodies of water, such as oceans and lakes, but not contained sources of water, such as the human brain.

3. The gravitational effect of the moon is just as potent during new moons—when the moon is invisible to us—as it is during full moons.

The full moon does have several observable effects such as increased brightness, tidal effects, cultural significance (some cultures celebrate festivals tied to the lunar calendar like Chinese New Year) and astronomical events like lunar eclipses.

Scientists continue to study how the moon influences various physiological and psychological systems.

But for the moment, there is no reason for us to worry about what the moon looks like when going about our day... or night.


1. https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/why-do-we-still-believe-in-lunacy-during-a-full-moon

2. https://www.healthline.com/health/full-moon-effects

3. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lunacy-and-the-full-moon/

4. https://www.verywellmind.com/does-the-moon-actually-affect-our-moods-5206203

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