Personality traits linked to stockpiling

Did you stockpile toilet paper during March? Or did you watch on in horror as others were fighting in the aisles?

Researchers have investigated the worldwide phenomenon that occurred during March and linked certain personality traits that most stockpilers seemed to have shared,

And if you think selfishness was the key indicator, you might be very surprised.

People who feel more threatened by COVID-19 and rank highly on scales of emotionality and conscientiousness were most likely to stockpile toilet paper in March 2020, according to the new study.

In March 2020, many people began stockpiling commodities including toilet paper. Some companies reported an increase of up to 700 per cent in toilet paper sales, despite calls from the government to refrain from panic buying. 

In the new study, researchers surveyed 1029 adults from 35 countries who were recruited through social media.

Between 23–29 March, participants completed the Brief HEXACO Inventory, which ranks six personality domains and shared information on their demographics, perceived threat level of COVID-19, quarantine behaviours, and toilet paper consumption.

The most robust predictor of toilet paper stockpiling was the perceived threat posed by the pandemic; people who felt more threatened tended to stockpile more toilet paper. 

Partly, this effect was based on the personality factor of emotionality – people who generally tend to worry a lot and feel anxious are more 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.

The researchers pointed out that the variables studied explained only 12 per cent of the variability in toilet paper stockpiling, which suggests that some psychological explanations and situational factors likely remain unaccounted for.

“Subjective threat of COVID-19 seems to be an important trigger for toilet paper stockpiling. However, we are still far away from understanding this phenomenon comprehensively,” the study authors said.

Were you a toilet paper stockpiler? Were you more worried about the pandemic than others? What do you think we can learn from the stockpiling situation in March?

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Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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