Stockpiling toilet paper says a lot about your personality

Stockpiling toilet paper during the Covid-19 lockdowns might be linked to having certain personality traits, according to new research. (Rawpixel pic)

BERN: New European research has revealed that people who rate highly for certain personality traits, and who felt more anxious about Covid-19, were more likely to stockpile toilet paper during the pandemic.

Carried out by researchers at the University of Saint Gallen, Switzerland and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat Munster in Germany, the new study surveyed 1,029 adults in 35 countries between March 23 and March 29 to measure six broad areas of personality.

The participants were also asked to report on their perceived threat level of Covid-19, their quarantine behaviours and how much toilet paper they had bought in recent weeks.

The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, showed that feeling more threatened by the pandemic was linked with shopping for toilet paper more often, buying more toilet paper and stockpiling more toilet paper.

The team also found that women, older people and Americans were more likely to feel threatened by Covid-19 than men, younger people and Europeans, respectively.

The perceived threat of the virus also increased with the numbers of days spent in quarantine.

In addition, participants who scored higher for emotionality, which describes people who tend to worry a lot and feel anxious, were also more likely to feel threatened by the virus and stockpile toilet roll, as were those with a higher level of conscientiousness, which includes the personality traits of organisation, diligence, perfectionism and prudence.

The researchers note that some companies reported an increase of up to 700% in their toilet paper sales during the pandemic.

For some, not being able to find toilet paper even led to problems such as the clogging of outfall pipes, after people started to use alternatives.

They also add that the factors included in this study account for only 12 percent of the variability in toilet paper stockpiling, which the researchers say suggests that other psychological reasons and factors are likely to also be at play.

“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,” they add.