Violence and the full moon

fullmoonFile under “huh?”. Sussex Police are increasing police patrols when there is a full moon (Daily Telegraph, 6 June):

Folklore has long associated the lunar cycle with strange happenings such as the nocturnal antics of men who have turned into werewolves. But a correlation has now been identified with a worsening in human behaviour when there is a full moon and also on pay days. Inspector Andy Parr, of Sussex Police, made the connection while analysing crime statistics for the Brighton and Hove area’s “night-time economy”. [...] Nine years ago a three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley jail in Leeds showed a rise in violent incident in the days either side of a full moon. Inspector Parr hopes his findings could lead to further university research which would be of use to police forces.

The relationship between a full moon and violence / etc has long been the subject of academic study. Eric Chudler’s glorious Neuroscience for Kids site (which will surely entertain and inform adults too) has a great page listing the outcomes of dozens of studies of lunar cycles and violence, suicide, depression, animal bites, accidents, drugs overdoses and emergency room calls. There’s also a nice article over at National Geographic, and some informative pages on lunar influence myths on the Skeptic’s Dictionary and Wikipedia sites, or if you want to take the academic approach, search PubMed, PsychINFO or any other reference database and you’ll find dozens of articles.

The results? There are a couple of studies in there which indicate a relationship exists (one of them presumably being the nine year old study cited in the newspaper article), but the vast majority suggest that there is no relationship between the full moon and an increase in violence (or changes in any other phenomena).

Unless something special is happening in Brighton, Sussex Police are probably wasting their time by upping patrols at a full moon. But hey, maybe there is something special about Brighton?  The Telegraph article reveals that “Inspector Parr hopes his findings could lead to further university research which would be of use to police forces”. Would anyone like to help him out?

Photo credit: -vimal-, Creative Commons License

13 thoughts on “Violence and the full moon”

  1. Aside from the fact that people can see better by the light of the full moon are capable of doing things they wouldn’t be able to do on a darker night, I doubt that the increased police presence is going to accomplish much.

  2. That’s in interesting observation Romeo. Wonder if anyone has explored the crime rates at full moon when cloudy vs when clear (or analysed cloudy vs clear nights, and tested for effect of moon phase?) ?

  3. I was a Massachusetts State Trooper for over two decades. We never conducted any scientific study but laughed and joked about the full moon and increased criminal activity. Maybe we were looking for the corelation between incidents and the full moon, but I can assure you that when the full moon was out we saw some bizarre criminal behavior.

    Regards
    Bob C.

  4. I hold a doctorate in metaphysics, and deal with special needs kids on an everyday basis. One of our students, a 14-year-old boy, displays unusal behavior when there is a full moon. It has been a full moon the past two nights, and during the days his teachers have seen a behavior change in him. He has become more violent when there is a full moon, and normally he displays a calmer demure. He is the only one of the special needs students who show drastic behavior changes. Even though it is unscientific proof, I think the Moon has a lot to do with different people’s behaviors. The Moon doesn’t affect everyone the same, but it does to some. The history of the Moon’s effects on behavior is more than folklore. I believe more research needs to be done in this field. It’s no longer an astrologers’ domain.

  5. I don’t think that the police are wasting their time by portolling more on a full moon. If the moon affects the water of the oceans, why wouldn’t it affect the water in our bodies? After all, the human body is 2/3 water. These things are known as ‘biological tides’ which sometimes makes people lose their sense of judgement. Not only that, but statistics show that crime rate of all different kinds goes up on full moons. So why not ahve a few more people looking around, trying to prevent anything bad from happening?

  6. i am doing a research statistic assignment and am really interested if anybody has any actual facts relating to the correlation between the moon and crime rates. there are many papers and test undsertaken but the majority state that ther is not significant enough difference between lunar cycles to state a positive link with crime levels. could it just be that the police are seeing what they expect or is there a real difference in peoples behaviour?
    can anyone recommend a way for me to go on this one?

  7. Very intersting. Human behavior and animal behavior both ARE affected by the moon and so are other creatures

  8. There has never been and I repeat the statement ” NEVER” been shown any correlation between full mooons and any increase, derease, or otherwise in criminal behavior, animal behavior or any other behavior on this planet. If you believe there is then you are from another planet!…………jw

  9. I used to work at a mental hospital, and a lot of times they could not see outside, but they could not tell if it was a full moon or not. But they did act stranger or excuse my mouth or crazery. My husband says it only has to do with fishing, but I do not believe that. His moods change and so do mine. That’s while I call it full moon madness. If anyone wants let me know if anyone feals the same way. God bless you all

  10. I was a bartender for seven years before gradutating from school and when I noticed bizarre behaviour from customers, I would confirm that there was a full moon at the time. Strange people would come into the bar with violent behaviour before taking their first drink. One day in particular I a man walked into the bar and sat a huge butcher knife on my bar and then orderd a Jack and Coke. I calmly made him a strong Jack with a splash of coke and as I slowly sat it in front of him I slid the knife away without a word. Then I called security as he sat alone and drank his coctail. I was alone in the bar of an expensive hotel lobby bar on a river walk. This was early in the day on a full moon and the man was taken away by a big burly security guard in minutes. There were no othere customers in the bar. He was a man with dirty long hair and I was a young lady in my twenties dressed scantily in my uniform. I was afraid of him and did not want to see what happened after he added alcohol to his mood. Thankfully, security did their job and removed him and the big knife from the bar area. The gesture of asking for a drink by placing a knife on the bar was taken as a threat by me and I took my time protecting myself in the manner I felt best. The man had never been there before the full moon.

  11. I agree with Ava, The gravitational pull during a full moon causes high tides, women go into labor, and your brain swells therefore the term LUNACY,

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