Starseeds: psychologists on why some people think they’re aliens living on Earth


There’s a new group of people on Earth who believe they’re aliens. Star people, or starseeds, are individuals who believe they have come to Earth from other dimensions to help heal the planet and guide humanity into the “golden age” – a period of great happiness, prosperity and achievement.

It might sound a little crazy but an internet search for the term brings up over 4 million results and there are scores of people posting videos on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook who believe they originate from another world. Indeed, content with the term #starseed has over 1 billion views on TikTok.

Unlike “Earth souls”, who are said to reincarnate on Earth, starseeds believe they have reawakened from another planet to be born here. Starseeds believe they are conduits between divine realms and the Earth and that they can transport between galaxies via meditation. Starseeds also believe they can communicate in “light language” – a form of communication that is said to bypass human limitations and be the language of the soul.

The idea is widely credited to the author Brad Steiger who wrote prolifically about the unknown and was keenly interested in alien life and extraterrestrials. In his 1976 book, Gods of Aquarius, Steiger introduced his notion that some people originate from other dimensions.

Believers claim there are several ways to tell if you are a starseed. These include searching for meaning in life and feeling a lack of belonging. Being spiritual and possessing a strong sense of intuition (knowing) are also qualities of a starseed.

They are also said to be empathetic, sensitive and have more physical and mental health issues as their souls aren’t used to having a human body. Starseeds want to help humanity. But they get overwhelmed by life on Earth and so recharge by spending time alone.

Believers also say that starseeds have the desire to explore and experience new cultures and spheres, which help star people to then provide novel insights into existence. Examples include new (conspiracy) theories about society, holistic health interventions along with thoughts on ancient aliens and civilisations.

Choose your reality

You might recognise some aspects of yourself in the above description. Many people, for example, report searching for meaning in life along with feeling displaced or like they don’t belong at times.

Indeed, research shows that a low sense of belonging is often linked to depression. But what makes some people who are experiencing such feelings jump to the conclusion that they must be from another planet? Particularly given that no life beyond Earth has ever been found and there is no evidence that alien life has ever visited Earth.

Welcome to the Forer effect. Named after Bertram Forer, the psychologist who first figured out that it was pretty easy to get people to agree with vague descriptions about themselves – see horoscopes.

The concept of starseeds is a form of new age belief. The term refers to alternative spiritual practices that developed during the 1970s.

Although each new age belief is different, philosophies share common features: they view existence in terms of the universe and focus on spirituality as well as the self. Think crystals, energy healing and psychic abilities.

Other features include reincarnationkarma and the possibility of reaching a higher level of consciousness.

Support for new age beliefs – such as starseeds – is on the rise. It comes from a distrust of science and doubts about conventional perceptions of reality. Particularly, cynicism about modern society and an attempt to find meaning in life.

Fantasy v fiction

Certain personality characteristics may also incline some people to believe in the notion of starseeds. For instance, if you are fantasy prone and often confuse imaginary and real events you may see the theory of alien consciousness as profound and desirable.

In psychological terms, this is known as a source monitoring error, which is a type of unconscious memory error whereby a person gets confused between what’s real and accurate and what’s unreal and imagined.

It’s commonly seen in schizophrenia and research has found links between schizotypal personality disorder – a common disorder considered to be a mild form of schizophrenia – and belief in conspiracy theories.

A further effect that can encourage such beliefs is what’s known as ontological confusion. This occurs when people cannot discriminate between metaphorical and factual statements such as: “Old furniture knows things about the past.” These may be interpreted more literally than metaphorically and so make it more likely that people then endorse pseudoscientific, transcendental theories.

This is especially true when the source of the information is perceived to be trustworthy and knowledgeable. Dubbed the Einstein effect, this is where trusted sources of information are given more credence because of the social credibility they possess.

In the case of starseeds, several books published by big publishing houses may provide a sense of authenticity and so too does the fact that a number of them are bestsellers. Indeed, it seems life as we know it, may not be as straightforward as we once imagined.

Author Bios: Ken Drinkwater is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Cognitive and Parapsychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, Andrew Denovan is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Huddersfield and Neil Dagnall is a Reader in Applied Cognitive Psychology also at Manchester Metropolitan University