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Personality traits linked to toilet paper stockpiling

Personality traits linked to toilet paper stockpiling

Researchers reveal what stockpiling habits may say about your personality.

Personality traits linked to toilet paper stockpiling

Following the spread of COVID-19 across the world, many people began stockpiling products like toilet paper, rice and pasta. Despite reassurances from producers that there was enough toilet paper to go around, many people went into panic buying mode, forcing supermarkets to introduce their own restrictions.

In a new study by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology researchers have shown how certain personality traits are linked to the stockpiling behaviour. For the study researchers surveyed 1,029 adults from 35 countries who were recruited through social media. Between 23 and 29 March 2020, participants completed the Brief HEXACO Inventory — which ranks six broad personality domains — and shared information on their demographics, perceived threat level of COVID-19, and quarantine behaviours, such as their toilet paper consumption in recent weeks.

One of the main predictors of stockpiling was based on the personality factor of emotionality — people who generally tend to worry a lot and feel anxious are most likely to feel threatened and stockpile toilet paper. The personality domain of conscientiousness — which includes traits of organisation, diligence, perfectionism and prudence — was also a predictor of stockpiling. Other observations were that older people stockpiled more toilet paper than younger people and that Americans stockpiled more than Europeans.

Another reason why some people feel the need to stockpile is due to the psychology of “retail therapy” says Paul Marsden, a consumer psychologist at the University of the Arts in London. He says it gives people a feeling that they are taking back control in a world where you feel out of control. “More generally, panic buying can be understood as playing to our three fundamental psychology needs” says Marsden, that is a need for control, relatedness and competence.

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