New research in the UK has looked into whether certain personality types are more environmentally conscious than others, and has found evidence that extroverts are less likely to make 'green' lifestyle choices, such as switching off lights and taking their own bags to the supermarket.
The small study looked at the habits of people aged over 50, and is one of the first to suggest that people's personalities influence how environmentally friendly they are. Out of all the personality traits, openness was the most positively associated with sustainable choices.
"It isn't surprising that people who we describe as open – those who are curious, imaginative and untraditional – are more likely to be green," one of the researchers, Sianne Gordon-Wilson from the University of Portsmouth Business School in the UK, said in a press release. "But we were surprised that extroverts are less likely to be green. We had expected that of all the five main personality types, open and extrovert people would be the most green."
The research is still in the early stages, and there's a lot of room for improvement on exactly how the scientists measured both personality types and green behaviours, but the team hopes that their research will help policy makers develop strategies that encourage consumers to reduce their environmental footprint and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions
To find out how personality affects lifestyle habits, the team asked 204 people aged over 50 about the ecologically conscious choices that they make when it comes to things like recycling, pollution and energy efficiency.
They also tested where people fell on the five main personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
They found that while extroverts might be 'reasonably green' there were other things competing for their attention that stopped them from making further efforts or lifestyle changes.
Obviously this is a very limited study, and it didn't take into account people's actual greenhouse gas emissions. But it's interesting early insight into how our personalities might affect our behaviours when it comes to sustainability. The results have been published in the journal Futures.
"Research hasn't paid much attention to whether age or personality type has an effect on someone's greenness," said Gordon Wilson. "Older consumers are growing and their behaviour and attitudes will increasingly be important. Their attitudes are likely to have a powerful effect on Britain's overall response to reducing greenhouse emissions."