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Influence of perceived threat of Covid-19 and HEXACO personality traits on toilet paper stockpiling



Following the fast spread of Covid-19 across Europe and North America in March 2020, many people started stockpiling commodities like toilet paper. Despite the high relevance for public authorities to adequately address stockpiling behavior, empirical studies on the psychological underpinnings of toilet paper stockpiling are still scarce. In this study, we investigated the relation between personality traits, perceived threat of Covid-19, and stockpiling of toilet paper in an online survey (N = 996) across 22 countries. Results suggest that people who felt more threatened by Covid-19 stockpiled more toilet paper. Further, a predisposition towards Emotionality predicted the perceived threat of Covid-19 and affected stockpiling behavior indirectly. Finally, Conscientiousness was related to toilet paper stockpiling, such that individuals higher in Conscientiousness tended to stockpile more toilet paper. These results emphasize the importance of clear communication by public authorities acknowledging anxiety and, at the same time, transmitting a sense of control.
Influence of perceived threat of Covid-19 and
HEXACO personality traits on toilet paper
Lisa GarbeID
, Richard Rau
, Theo ToppeID
1Institute for Political Science, School of Economics and Political Science, University of St.Gallen, St.Gallen,
Switzerland, 2Department of Psychology, University of Mu¨nster, Mu¨nster, Germany, 3Department of
Comparative Cultural Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Following the fast spread of Covid-19 across Europe and North America in March 2020,
many people started stockpiling commodities like toilet paper. Despite the high relevance
for public authorities to adequately address stockpiling behavior, empirical studies on the
psychological underpinnings of toilet paper stockpiling are still scarce. In this study, we
investigated the relation between personality traits, perceived threat of Covid-19, and stock-
piling of toilet paper in an online survey (N= 996) across 22 countries. Results suggest that
people who felt more threatened by Covid-19 stockpiled more toilet paper. Further, a predis-
position towards Emotionality predicted the perceived threat of Covid-19 and affected stock-
piling behavior indirectly. Finally, Conscientiousness was related to toilet paper stockpiling,
such that individuals higher in Conscientiousness tended to stockpile more toilet paper.
These results emphasize the importance of clear communication by public authorities
acknowledging anxiety and, at the same time, transmitting a sense of control.
Within a few weeks, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has turned into a severe global
health crisis in spring 2019 [1]. With the increasing spread of the virus, the demand for partic-
ular commodities such as toilet paper has skyrocketed. Some companies reported an increase
of up to 700% in their sales [24]. Despite government appeals to refrain from “panic buying”
or stockpiling [5], supermarkets across countries face difficulties in stocking up toilet paper.
The resulting scarcity of toilet paper in some households has led to problematic consequences
such as the clogging of outfall pipes after people started using products other than toilet paper
[6]. In response to the increased stockpiling of toilet paper across countries, numerous media
articles sought to explain its underlying psychological processes [712]. However, to date,
most claims are hardly supported by empirical evidence despite recent calls for more social
and behavioral studies to support effective strategies in response to Covid-19 [13]. In this
PLOS ONE | June 12, 2020 1 / 12
Citation: Garbe L, Rau R, Toppe T (2020) Influence
of perceived threat of Covid-19 and HEXACO
personality traits on toilet paper stockpiling. PLoS
ONE 15(6): e0234232.
Editor: Valerio Capraro, Middlesex University,
Received: April 14, 2020
Accepted: May 21, 2020
Published: June 12, 2020
Peer Review History: PLOS recognizes the
benefits of transparency in the peer review
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Copyright: ©2020 Garbe et al. This is an open
access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original
author and source are credited.
Data Availability Statement: All data files,
supplementals, and R code are available from the
Open Science Framework:
Funding: The author(s) received no specific
funding for this work.
study, we examined the relationship between personality traits, perceived threat of Covid-19,
and the hoarding of toilet paper to learn more about its psychological underpinnings.
Which individual difference variables can account for toilet paper hoarding? On a superfi-
cial level, private stockpiling of limited resources may appear first and foremost as an instance
of selfishness. In fact, there exist stable and substantial individual differences in peoples’ con-
cern for their own vs. everyone’s welfare [14] and these differences are frequently found to
explain prosocial vs. antisocial behavior in contexts involving a shortage of resources [15].
Another explanation that has been prominently featured in the media revolves around an
overgeneralization of disgust. According to this notion, people experience an increased sensi-
tivity to disgust in times of a spreading disease [10] and toilet paper is hypothesized to serve as
a symbol of safety alleviating the perceived threat [11]. Consequently, stockpiling toilet paper
during the Covid-19 pandemic should be observed primarily among those who feel particu-
larly threatened by the virus. Although stockpiling as a result of perceived threat might be con-
sidered selfish by some, it is important to note that it would not necessarily reflect a
dispositional lack of prosociality. Instead, even the most humble and moral individuals might
stockpile toilet paper as long as they feel sufficiently threatened by the pandemic. Finally,
stockpiling toilet paper has also been interpreted in terms of classic psychoanalytic theory. In
this line of reasoning, individuals with a marked pattern of orderliness and self-discipline, or
an “anal-retentive personality” [16], are hypothesized to be particularly inclined to hoard toilet
paper [8,17]. At the same time, however, these individuals may also exhibit high levels of self-
control and may refrain from impulsive panic-purchases more easily.
In order to examine individual differences underlying toilet paper consumption empiri-
cally, we attended to the HEXACO model of personality in the present study. The HEXACO
model is rooted in lexical studies of personality descriptors across various languages and orga-
nizes individual differences along six broad personality domains [18]: Honesty-Humility
(characterized by the facets sincerity, fairness, greed avoidance, and modesty), Emotionality
(fearfulness, anxiety, dependence, sentimentality), eXtraversion (social self-esteem, social
boldness, sociability, liveliness), Agreeableness (forgiveness, gentleness, flexibility, patience),
Conscientiousness (organization, diligence, perfectionism, prudence), and Openness to Expe-
rience (aesthetic appreciation, inquisitiveness, creativity, unconventionality). As a widely
established and well-validated taxonomy, the HEXACO model allowed us to empirically
address many of the speculations expressed in the popular media during the Covid-19 out-
break in an objective and methodologically sound manner. Differences in people’s solidary
concern for others’ is captured in the Honesty-Humility dimension, differential tendencies to
worry and be anxious are captured in the Emotionality dimension, and differences in orderli-
ness and self-discipline are captured in the Conscientiousness dimension. Although we did
not have specific reasons to expect relations between toilet paper consumption and the
remaining HEXACO dimensions, we considered these as well for completeness.
To the best of our knowledge, only one study has so far examined the relationship between
personality traits and hoarding behavior during the Covid-19 pandemic. This study focused
exclusively on the Honesty-Humility dimension and found initial evidence that hoarding was
driven by a lack of solidarity in a sample of UK residents [19]. However, no empirical study
exists on the link between toilet paper stockpiling and the remaining personality domains
which leaves the role of personality, defined more broadly, unanswered. In this study, we sur-
veyed an international sample of adults to explore the relationships between the HEXACO
personality dimensions, experiences of threat of Covid-19, and toilet paper consumption.
A more comprehensive understanding of how the perceived threat of Covid-19 and differ-
ent personality traits trigger stockpiling behavior has important implications for public poli-
cies directed at households and individuals as well as grocery stores selling toilet paper and
Perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling
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Competing interests: The authors have declared
that no competing interests exist.
other scarce commodities. To date, governments and companies have implemented different
measures to guarantee comprehensive supply and a deeper psychological understanding of toi-
let paper stockpiling will help to evaluate and improve these measures.
Our study was conducted from March 23rd to March 29th, 2020, a period in which the total
number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 increased from about 378.200 to more than 650.000
[20]. Many national governments implemented partial or complete lockdowns during that
time (e.g., Germany or United States). Thus, this period was characterized by frequent and
drastic changes in public life and was accompanied by immediate shortages of resources such
as toilet paper. Due to the exploratory nature of our research question, our sampling strategy
was not based on power considerations to detect a specific effect. Instead, we aimed for a sam-
ple size of N= 1,000 as this would yield sufficient power (90%) to detect small effects (r= .10)
in a two-sided test at an alpha-rate of 5%.
In total, N= 1,029 adults from 35 countries took part in the study. The survey was advertised
via mailing lists and postings on social media platforms. Participation was anonymous and vol-
untary and participants did not receive any incentives. Before taking the survey, participants
provided written informed consent by confirming that their participation was voluntary, that
they understood the study’s goals, and that they knew that they could withdraw from participa-
tion at any time. We classified participants with respect to their place of residence (Europe,
United States/Canada, Other). Participants in the “Other” category were excluded from the
analyses due to the small size of that category (see S1 Table in the Supporting Information for
the sample size of each country). Table 1 provides a description of the final sample (N= 996
participants from 22 countries).
Materials and procedure
After providing informed consent, participants filled out the Brief HEXACO Inventory (BHI;
[21]) which comprises four items for each of the six dimensions (one item per facet, 24 items
in total). They then indicated their currently perceived level of threat posed by Covid-19 on a
10-point visual analogue scale and provided information about current curfew regulations at
their place of residence (e.g., availability of local public transport; see Table 1). Further, partici-
pants described their toilet paper (ToP) consumption behavior. In particular, participants indi-
cated (a) their ToP shopping frequency in the past two weeks (not once,once,twice,three times
or more), (b) their ToP shopping intensity, i.e. how many packages of toilet rolls they bought
(none,one,two,three or more), (c) the amount of toilet rolls currently stocked in their house-
hold (none; 1 to 4; 5 to 8; 9 to 12; 13 to 16; 17 to 20; 21 or more), and (d) whether they had
stocked an unusual amount of toilet paper (less than usual,usual,more than usual). Then, par-
ticipants indicated whether and for how long their household had been in strict quarantine
(i.e., not leaving the house at all) as well as how many high-risk persons live in their household
(e.g., due to age or pre-existing condition). Finally, participants reported their age, gender,
place of residence, nationality, household size, as well as their political left-right placement on
a 11-point visual analog scale [22]. We created an English and a German version of this ques-
tionnaire (see S2 and S3 Tables for both versions of the questionnaire). All item translations
were discussed with native speakers of both languages and any disagreements were resolved.
The questionnaire was implemented via the online survey platform formr [23].
Perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling
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Data analytic approach
Initial inspection of the data revealed that some variables had limited variance and, thus, were
of limited explanatory value for our analyses (see Table 1). These variables pertained to curfew
regulations at the participants residence (e.g., whether schools or restaurants are closed), to the
Table 1. Descriptive statistics by place of residence.
Variable Measure Value
US/Canada (n = 267) Europe (n = 729)
M (SD)
Age in years 32.39 (10.64) 32.09 (9.36)
Gender %
Female 81.64 68.31
Male 15.73 30.59
Diverse 2.62 1.10
M (SD)
Household size 2.55 (1.18) 2.61 (1.70)
Days in quarantine 2.30 (4.05) 0.99 (3.17)
High risk people in household
0.41 (0.76) 0.28 (0.65)
Days between participation and first recorded case of Covid-19 in country 63.08 (1.67) 54.80 (9.70)
Political left right placement 3.00 (1.86) 3.33 (1.59)
% yes
Personal mobility restriction 60.67 84.64
Leaving the house is only permitted in specific professions
95.68 76.82
Leaving the house is only permitted in small groups
69.75 95.14
Restrictions on public life
98.13 99.04
Educational facilities are closed
100 99.86
Restaurant, bars, cafe
´s are closed
93.89 99.31
Local public transport is restricted 52.43 65.84
M (SD)
Toilet paper packages bought 1.85 (0.92) 1.81 (0.70)
Shopping frequency 1.63 (0.63) 1.71 (0.59)
Toilet rolls in household 12.47 (6.11) 8.90 (5.27)
Current amount of toilet paper is. . .
Less than usual 9.36 9.74
Usual 73.41 76.54
More than usual 17.23 13.71
M (SD)
Perceived threat by Covid-19 6.05 (1.99) 4.59 (2.15)
HEXACO Dimensions
Honesty-Humility 4.06 (0.57) 3.76 (0.68)
Emotionality 3.08 (0.66) 3.01 (0.64)
Extraversion 3.81 (0.62) 3.97 (0.64)
Agreeableness 2.92 (0.62) 2.85 (0.56)
Conscientiousness 3.60 (0.66) 3.42 (0.61)
Openness 3.92 (0.59) 4.02 (0.52)
M, mean; SD, standard deviation
Excluded from analysis due to limited variance.
Perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling
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proportion of high-risk persons in the participants’ households, and to the (un)usualness of
the currently stocked amount of toilet paper and are not considered in the remainder of the
article. ToP shopping frequency and ToP shopping intensity were strongly correlated with one
another (r= .80) but only weakly correlated with the amount of stocked toilet rolls (rs = .27
and .21, respectively; see S4 Table for correlations of all variables included in the statistical
models). Given this heterogeneity, we examined our research question separately for each of
these ToP consumption indicators.
We analyzed the data in a series of multiple regressions aimed at explaining the per-
ceived threat of Covid-19 first, and stockpiling of toilet paper second. For each dependent
variable, we first computed a baseline model featuring several control variables that could
presumably be related to that variable without being of psychological interest in their own
right. These control variables were age, gender (female vs. male vs. diverse), household
size, personal mobility restrictions (yes vs. no), restrictions on public transport (yes vs. no),
number of days in strict quarantine, political left-right placement, residence (US/Canada
vs. Europe), and the number of days between participation and the first recorded case of
Covid-19 in the participants’ residence (retrieved from
We then entered the psychological predictor of interest in a second step to examine its
effect above and beyond the control variables of the baseline model. As the psychological
predictors, we considered the six HEXACO dimensions and, when predicting ToP con-
sumption, the perceived threat of Covid-19. Thus, each baseline model was followed by six
(when perceived threat was the dependent variable) or seven (when a ToP consumption
indicator was the dependent variable) models each of which addressed the unique predic-
tive value of one psychological variable.
Whenever we found a significant effect in this step, we allowed for an interaction with resi-
dence to test whether the effect was moderated by participants’ place of residence as a follow-
up analysis. To ease interpretation, continuous variables were z-standardized and categorical
variables were dummy-coded in all models. All analyses were conducted in R [24]. Data and
R-code are available at
Measurement characteristics of the BHI
To make sure that our German translation of the BHI captured the same latent constructs as
the original English version, we tested measurement invariance for each personality dimen-
sion. Specifically, the fact that we were interested in the relation between personality and our
dependent variables (but not in country-level differences in personality) required metric (but
not scalar) equivalence. Thus, we compared a metric model in which indicators were con-
strained to be equal across versions with a configural model in which the four indicators of a
dimension were estimated freely across versions. The metric model was supported for each of
the six HEXACO dimensions, Δχ
(3) <6.58, p>.08 for all model comparisons. Internal con-
sistencies were modest (α
= .50; α
= .37; α
= .64; α
= .36; α
= .54; α
= .49) as is
expected in short instruments that seek to maximize content validity [21].
Perceived threat of Covid-19
The baseline model for perceived threat of Covid-19 revealed that the likelihood to feel threat-
ened increases significantly with age (p= .019; see Table 2) and with the number of days spent
in quarantine (p= .002). Female participants felt more threatened by Covid-19 than male par-
ticipants (p= .001). Moreover, participants residing in Europe reported to feel significantly
less threatened than their North-American counterparts (p<.001). The models for the
Perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling
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HEXACO dimensions revealed a link between Emotionality and the perceived threat of
Covid-19 (p<.001) with participants higher on Emotionality reporting more perceived
Toilet paper consumption
For all variables indicating toilet paper consumption—shopping frequency, shopping inten-
sity, and number of stocked toilet rolls—the baseline models revealed a positive relation with
age (ps<.009; see Table 2). That is, older participants shopped more frequently, bought more
packages of toilet paper and had more toilet papers rolls in stock as compared to younger par-
ticipants. Participants residing in Europe shopped toilet paper more frequently than North-
American residents (p= .039) but had less toilet paper in stock (p<.001).
Table 2. Prediction of perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling.
Predictors Dependent Variable
Perceived Threat of
ToP Shopping
ToP Shopping
Stocked ToP
Baseline Model b SE b SE b SE b SE
Age 0.072 0.030 0.085 0.032 0.099 0.032 0.069 0.031
Female gender (ref: male) -0.226 0.069 -0.028 0.073 0.016 0.073 -0.063 0.070
Other gender (ref: male) -0.355 0.248 -0.224 0.262 -0.102 0.261 0.256 0.249
Household size 0.012 0.030 0.053 0.032 0.069 0.032 0.044 0.030
Personal mobility restriction -0.125 0.075 0.055 0.080 0.080 0.080 -0.087 0.076
Public transport restriction -0.021 0.063 -0.065 0.066 -0.080 0.080 -0.065 0.063
Days in quarantine 0.097 0.031 0.061 0.032 0.049 0.032 0.031 0.031
Political orientation (left to right) -0.007 0.031 -0.008 0.032 0.013 0.032 0.127 0.031
Place of residence -0.614 0.079 0.172 0.083 -0.055 0.083 -0.642 0.080
Days since first Covid-19 case -0.006 0.004 0.000 0.004 -0.001 0.004 -0.055 0.033
Incremental main effects of psychological variables b SE b SE b SE b SE
Perceived threat of Covid-19 0.076 0.033 0.077 0.033 0.100 0.032
Honesty-Humility 0.026 0.032 -0.002 0.033 -0.008 0.033 0.045 0.032
Emotionality 0.188 0.031 0.041 0.033 0.018 0.033 0.039 0.032
Extraversion -0.039 0.030 0.012 0.032 0.018 0.032 -0.009 0.031
Agreeableness -0.026 0.030 -0.020 0.032 -0.004 0.032 0.001 0.031
Conscientiousness -0.047 0.030 0.059 0.032 0.064 0.032 0.061 0.031
Openness to experience -0.039 0.030 0.000 0.032 0.040 0.032 -0.075 0.030
Interaction effects of psychological variables and place of residence b SE b SE b SE b SE
Perceived threat of Covid-19 0.136 0.078 0.091 0.078 0.071 0.074
Emotionality 0.101 0.066
Conscientiousness 0.087 0.070 0.112 0.070 0.004 0.066
Openness to experience 0.010 0.065
Upper limit model determination
= .147 R
= .024 R
= .024 R
= .116
Significant regression weights (p <.05) are printed in bold. Interaction effects were only tested for models that involved a significant main effect for the psychological
variable at hand. ToP = Toilet Paper. Coding of place of residence: 0 = US/Canada; 1 = EU.
Model determination is presented for the model with the most influential psychological variable for the respective dependent variable.
Perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling
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Turning to the psychological predictors, the perceived threat of Covid-19 was positively
related to all three ToP variables (ps<.025). Participants who reported to feel more threatened
shopped toilet paper more frequently, bought more packages, and had more toilet paper in
stock. Also, the models suggested that Conscientiousness is positively associated with toilet
paper consumption. In particular, participants high on Conscientiousness tended to shop
more frequently (p= .065), shopped more ToP (p= .045), and stocked more toilet paper (p=
Following up on these findings by allowing for an interaction term of the respective predic-
tor with participants’ place of residence did not yield any significant effects (all ps>.08). That
is, associations between psychological variables on the one hand and perceived threat of
Covid-19 and ToP consumption on the other hand did not differ systematically for USA/Can-
ada vs. EU residents.
Indirect effects of emotionality on toilet paper consumption
Given the link between Emotionality and perceived threat posed by Covid-19 on the one hand,
and perceived threat and toilet paper consumption on the other, we examined the indirect
effect of Emotionality on toilet paper consumption through threat perception. We therefore
re-estimated the models that involved Emotionality and perceived threat as predictors with the
lavaan package [25] and used bootstrapped confidence intervals to evaluate the significance of
the indirect effect.
For toilet paper shopping intensity and the amount of stocked toilet rolls, we found that the
indirect effect of Emotionality through perceived threat was significant (c’ = .016; 95% CI =
[0.002; 0.031] for ToP shopping intensity; c’ = .019; 95% CI = [-0.006; 0.036] for stocked toilet
rolls; see Fig 1). The indirect effects for ToP shopping frequency was marginally significant (c’
= .014; 95% CI = [0.001; 0.029]; see Fig 1). These results suggest that Emotionality may fuel the
feeling of being threatened by the Covid-19 pandemic which may consequently foster toilet
paper stockpiling.
The three main findings of the current study are the following: First, the perceived threat of
Covid-19 predicts toilet paper stockpiling. Second, Emotionality predicts the perceived threat
of Covid-19 and thereby indirectly affects stockpiling behavior. Third, individuals high in
Conscientiousness engage in more toilet paper stockpiling. All these effects held across North
American and European countries and were robust across different indicators of toilet paper
stockpiling (i.e., shopping frequency, shopping intensity, and stocked toilet rolls). Importantly,
we ruled out that these effects were driven by socio-demographic characteristics (i.e., age, gen-
der, household size, political attitudes) or by regulations of local authorities (i.e., restrictions of
personal mobility or public transport).
The most robust predictor of toilet paper stockpiling was the perceived threat posed by
Covid-19. People who feel more threatened by the pandemic stockpile more toilet paper.
Given that stockpiling is objectively unrelated to saving lives or jobs during a health crisis, this
finding supports the notion that toilet paper functions as a purely subjective symbol of safety.
We also found that this effect was partly based on the personality factor of Emotionality.
Around 20 percent of the differences in toilet paper consumption that were explained by feel-
ings of threat were based on people’s dispositional tendency to worry a lot and generally feel
anxious. At the same time, the remaining 80 percent of this effect were not found to be rooted
in personality differences. This suggests that how much people feel personally threatened by
Covid-19 also depends on psychological factors not accounted for in our study or on malleable
Perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling
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Perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling
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external factors such as the risk management by and trust in local authorities. Hence, these
findings highlight the potential of public communication to address individuals’ perceptions
of threat and thereby alter their shopping behavior. For instance, research on communication
strategies suggests that clear communication aiming to increase awareness of a disease and
providing simple behavioral instructions reduces people’s threat perception [26]. While it is
important to communicate the severity of a pandemic and appeal to people’s compliance to
necessary measures such as social distancing, communicators should be careful not to provoke
panic that can eventually result in dysfunctional behavior such as stockpiling (see also [27]).
This is also in line with the finding that fear can potentially be useful if people “feel capable of
dealing with the threat” ([13], p. 2). If fear is driven by strong emotions, however, people may
ignore factual information and engage in irrational behavior (ibid.).
In addition to the effect of perceived threat, we found personality differences in Conscien-
tiousness to be another robust predictor of toilet paper stockpiling. More conscientious people
tend to stockpile more toilet paper. This finding is in line with the expectation that long-
sighted and more orderly individuals engage in more stockpiling and does not support the
counternarrative that conscientious individuals refrain from impulsive panic buying due to
increased self-control. This finding implies that public communication is well advised to stress
the functioning of supply chains and the long-term availability of vital commodities. Such
rational appeal might exploit people’s long-sightedness and effectively counter the dysfunc-
tional intuition that commodities may become scarce in the near future.
In contrast to preliminary insights from Columbus’ study [19], we did not find Honesty-
Humility to be a significant predictor of toilet paper stockpiling. This implies that toilet paper
stockpiling might not be resulting from a lack of solidarity and, as such, moral appeals by pub-
lic authorities asking people to refrain from stockpiling might be less fruitful than expected.
However, the discrepancy between the present findings and the ones from Columbus’ study
[19] call for further scrutiny given that there were major differences between the two studies
from which diverging results may have emerged. For instance, we focused on toilet paper, sur-
veyed participants from 22 countries, and controlled for several socio-demographic and local
regulatory differences. In contrast, Columbus examined hoarding behavior more broadly,
focused on a UK-only sample, and did not control for third variables. More research is needed
to reveal which of these differences can resolve the discrepant findings with respect to the role
of Honesty-Humility and stockpiling.
Our analyses further revealed that with increasing age, people tend to stockpile more toilet
paper. Older people are more prone to a severe course of the disease and, thus, may be more
eager to prepare for strict self-isolation. In addition, in some countries, older people were
asked to self-isolate before more comprehensive lockdowns were put in place (e.g., [28]) which
might partly account for the age effect. Besides, our results revealed differences between Amer-
ican and European households. As compared to European participants, Americans reported a
higher perception of threat of Covid-19 which might result from different communication
strategies of public authorities or differences in public health systems. Also, Americans stock-
piled more toilet paper in their household and went toilet paper shopping less frequently as
compared to Europeans. This could be attributed to the circumstance that, on average, toilet
paper rolls come in bigger packages in the US (e.g., up to 36 rolls per package) than in most
European countries (e.g., between 8 to 16 rolls).
Fig 1. Panels indicate the indirect effects of Emotionality on (a) shopping frequency, (b) shopping intensity, and (c) stocked toilet
paper rolls. In each panel, c refers to the total effect of Emotionality and c’ refers so the indirect effect of Emotionality through the
perceived threat of Covid-19.
Perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling
PLOS ONE | June 12, 2020 9 / 12
While the current study provides valuable first insights into the psychological underpin-
nings of toilet paper stockpiling in the wake of a health crisis, some limitations will need to be
addressed in future research. For example, future studies might examine regional or even local
differences in personality effects on stockpiling by systematically sampling participants from
areas that are differentially affected by the pandemic and/or from urban vs. rural areas.
Although we did not observe differential psychological effects when comparing Europe vs.
North America, it is conceivable that regional differences with respect to the severity of the
health problems and to governmental responses will afford different psychological adaptations.
Data with higher power and a higher spatial resolution will be needed to unravel such modera-
tion effects. Second, future studies might consider individual differences outside of the HEX-
ACO framework. Here, the considered variables explained only up to 12% of the variation in
toilet paper consumption which suggests that some psychological explanations of toilet paper
consumption have likely remained unaccounted for. Future studies might thus consider more
narrow traits that are perhaps more immediately involved in motivating toilet paper stockpil-
ing (or a lack thereof) such as optimism [29] or perfectionism [30] or that directly tap into
antisocial tendencies such as the dark triad traits [31]. Also, experimental studies would be
required in order to explicitly test the directionality implied in our investigation of indirect
effects. Finally, a more detailed analysis of situational factors such as the increase of Covid-19
cases on a particular day or the communication strategies of local authorities might be promis-
ing avenues for explaining toilet paper stockpiling more comprehensively. Meanwhile, the
present study suggests that low anxiety and little desire to plan ahead are the best psychological
protective factors to refrain from irrationally stockpiling limited resources in times of a health
Supporting information
S1 Table. Sample sizes for all residences.
S2 Table. English version of the questionnaire.
S3 Table. German version of the questionnaire.
S4 Table. Correlations with confidence intervals.
We thank all employees in supermarkets who are working under enormous pressure at the
moment for their valuable work. We thank Sabine Ertel for her inspiration to investigate toilet
paper hoarding and Florian Scharf for patiently responding to voice messages. Also, we thank
Valerio Capraro and an anonymous reviewer for fruitful comments and a rapid review pro-
cess. Finally, we thank all participants.
Author Contributions
Conceptualization: Lisa Garbe, Richard Rau, Theo Toppe.
Data curation: Lisa Garbe, Richard Rau, Theo Toppe.
Formal analysis: Lisa Garbe, Richard Rau, Theo Toppe.
Perceived threat of Covid-19 and toilet paper stockpiling
PLOS ONE | June 12, 2020 10 / 12
Investigation: Lisa Garbe, Richard Rau, Theo Toppe.
Methodology: Lisa Garbe, Richard Rau, Theo Toppe.
Visualization: Lisa Garbe, Richard Rau, Theo Toppe.
Writing – original draft: Lisa Garbe, Richard Rau, Theo Toppe.
Writing – review & editing: Lisa Garbe, Richard Rau, Theo Toppe.
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... This increase in impulse purchasing has happened in both traditional and online shopping environments, as customers try to stock up on essentials that they fear may become scarce or unavailable. In addition to an increase in impulse shopping during the pandemic, the literature also indicates a greater emphasis on utilitarian products (products bought to achieve tangible outcomes, such as household staples like toilet paper) than hedonic products (products that regulate consumer emotions such as beauty care or entertainment) (Yang, Peng, & Wang, 2020;Garbe, Rau & Toppe, 2020;Soudi & Bouallala, 2020). Such changing shopping patterns may be prevalent throughout the world as recent research indicates that there appears to be no significant difference between the buying behavior of consumers in a developed country compared with that of consumers in a developing country during the Covid-19 pandemic (Corbishley, Dobbelstein, & Mason, 2022). ...
... However, the research by Yang et al. (2020) showed that demographic variables such as education level, monthly income, etc. did not influence the consumer behavior model. Research by Garbe et al., (2020) on toilet paper stockpiling during Covid-19 also found most demographic factors (e.g., gender, household size, place of residence, political attitudes) were not major drivers of consumer behavior, which they identified as the emotionality and conscientiousness personality traits. ...
... Regarding the age variable, Aschwanden et al. (2020) found that older respondents had fewer concerns about the impact of Covid-19 than younger respondents, and that such concerns by the different age categories varied according to personality characteristics. Garbe et al. (2020) suggests that the probability of feeling threatened by the pandemic, and therefore stockpiling items such as toilet paper increases significantly with age. Furthermore, Koch et al. (2020) found that younger consumers also tend towards more hedonistic buying behavior. ...
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Consumer decisions are influenced by various variables, including compliance with society’s social norms and by involvement by consumers with the issue under consideration. Both variables have influenced consumers’ actions during previous pandemics. Therefore, this study investigated involvement with the Covid-19 pandemic, together with social norm compliance (SNC), their mutual influence, and how demographic characteristics and country of residence influenced these three issues. The methodology involved a quantitative descriptive cross-sectional survey, with a quota sample of 1096 responses, based on age, gender, education, habitation, and income. The research was conducted with populations representing the consumers who patronize major retailers in a developed country (Germany) and a developing one (South Africa). Data was collected via questionnaires e-mailed to commercial consumer panels covering both countries. The findings showed that involvement is influenced by gender, age, education, habitation, and country of residence, but that SNC is not influenced by demographics but does differ according to country. Further findings were that involvement with Covid-19 strongly influences SNC and, similarly, SNC also strongly influences involvement with Covid-19. Furthermore demographics, excluding habitation, also influence these variables. However, the relationship between the involvement and SNC variables does not differ between the two countries. This study has provided a better understanding of consumers’ involvement with Covid-19 and SNC as components of consumer behavior, which is important since, during the Covid-19 pandemic, retailers have been instrumental in implementing health protocols. Therefore, understanding the relationship between involvement with Covid-19 and SNC, and how they are influenced by consumer demographics, is important.
... Secondly, with the exceptional of studies conducted by Aschwanden, Strickhouser, Sesker, Lee, Luchetti, Stephan, Sutin and Terracciano (2021) and Modersitzki, Phan, Kuper and Rauthmann (2020), most previous studies have focused on the universal giant five spheres of personality without taking into account likely variance effects of precisely additional features of the same universal giant five spheres of personality. Thirdly, previous studies on the role of safety measures in combating the spread of COVID-19 have considered only one characteristic of people such as washroom paper hoarding or hand cleanliness (Carvalho, Pianowski & Gonçalves,2020;Garbe, Rau & Toppe , 2020). ...
... Additionally, in line with studies by Abdelrahman (2020) Garbe et al. (2020) and Zettler et al., (2020) this study has found that people characterized with conscientiousness traits are said to abide with COVID-19 safety measures on aspects of keeping social distance, avoiding crowding, washing hands, being vaccinated and sanitizing just to mention a few. Thus, when organizations such as universities are occupied with people characterized with conscientiousness are in a good chance for their people to comply with established standards such as following all protocols for COVID-19 safety measures that involve issues like keeping social distance, avoiding crowding, frequently washing hands, being vaccinated, sanitizing, wearing face masks, and sometimes quarantining. ...
The study aimed at investigating the predictability of personality characteristics on COVID-19 safety measures compliance. Specifically, the study aimed at examining the influence of agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion, openness to experiences on COVID-19 safety measures compliance. The study is based on cross-sectional research design whereby data were collected from university students. Through a questionnaire survey, data were collected from 450 university students at the University of Dar es Salaam. Based on SmartPLS estimates, it was found that four students’ personality characteristics i.e. agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion and openness to experiences significantly predict COVID-19 safety measures compliance. The study revealed that agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experiences have a positive prediction on COVID19 safety measures compliance. Moreover, the study revealed that extraversion personality has a negative prediction on COVID-19 safety measures compliance. However, the study failed to establish the predictability of emotional stability as one of students’ personality characteristics on COVID-19 safety measures compliance. The study suggests a unique perspective on the predictability of personality characteristics on COVID-19 safety measures thus complementing previous studies based on university students’ perspective. The positive predictability of agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experiences as well as the negative predictability of extraversion on COVID19 safety measures compliance tend to increase the soundness of personality characteristics in complying with established standards. Thus, understanding personality characteristics of people such as university students is essential in determining the extent of COVID-19 safety measures compliance.
... Insbesondere die wahrgenommene Bedrohung durch Covid-19 sowie ein Hang zur Emotionalität beeinflusst das Anlegen von Vorräten wie bspw. von Toilettenpapier (Garbe et al., 2020). Auch Yang et al. (2021) begründen den plötzlichen Nachfrageanstieg mit emotionalen Faktoren wie Angst. ...
The term mobility has different meanings in the following science disciplines. In economics, mobility is the ability of an individual or a group to improve their economic status in relation to income and wealth within their lifetime or between generations. In information systems and computer science, mobility is used for the concept of mobile computing, in which a computer is transported by a person during normal use. Logistics creates by the design of logistics networks the infrastructure for the mobility of people and goods. Electric mobility is one of today’s solutions from an engineering perspective to reduce the need of energy resources and environmental impact. Moreover, for urban planning, mobility is the crunch question about how to optimize the different needs for mobility and how to link different transportation systems. In this publication we collected the ideas of practitioners, researchers, and government officials regarding the different modes of mobility in a globalised world, focusing on both domestic and international issues.
... Menurut (Tamara et al., 2021) terdapat beberapa faktor yang mempengaruhi tingkat stress orang tua yaitu orang tua harus menyeimbangkan pekerjaannya dengan tanggung jawab pengasuhan anak, serta tingkat ekonomi yang tidak stabil, orang tua frustasi akibat anak-anak tidak fokus dalam belajar dan kurangnya dukungan sosial. Selanjutnya hasil penelitian (Garbe et al., 2020) tingkat stress orang tua meningkat dimana orang tua membutuhkan sumber daya yang dapat mereka gunakan untuk pembelajaran anak-anak mereka di rumah. Menurut (Emiyanti et al., 2020) kendala yang dihadapi orang tua dalam pendampingan anak belajar selama di rumah yaitu pengeluaran biaya untuk paket data yang meningkat, orang tua mengalami kesulitan hal ini disebabkan kurangnya penjelasan materi dari guru, meningkatnya stress terutama pada ibu dan terbatasnya fasilitas pembelajaran di rumah. ...
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Masa pandemi menimbulkan berbagai permasalahan baik dari guru, anak dan orang tua. Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mengetahui tingkat stress pada orang tua dalam mengasuh anak di masa pandemi. Penelitian ini menggunakan pendekatan kualitatif. Subjek penelitian dalam penelitian ini yaitu dua keluarga (ayah dan ibu) yang memiliki anak usia 5 dan 6 tahun. Jenis data dalam penelitian ini yaitu menggunakan data primer. Teknik pengumpulan data dalam penelitian ini yaitu observasi dan wawancara. Teknik analisis data yang digunakan yaitu model Miles dan Huberman. Hasil penelitian ini yaitu meningkatnya stress orang tua dalam mengasuh anak usia dini disebabkan oleh tidak stabilnya emosi orang tua, orang tua mengalami tekanan mental, sulit membagi waktu dalam mendampingi anak, kekurangan dalam segi materi, kesulitan jaringan internet dan sifat anak yang mudah bosan dengan belajar daring, pola pengasuhan yang diterapkan yaitu otoriter. Kebaruan penelitian ini yaitu mengetahui kendala dalam mengasuh anak di masa pandemi, tingkat stress yang di alami orang tua, pola pengasuhan yang diterapkan dan peran orang tua dalam pengasuhan. Implikasi penelitian ini diharapkan menjadi masukan kepada orang tua dalam mengasuh anak usia dini.
... According to them, papers dealing with the psychological effects and behavior of tourists mainly focused on how people feel about and respond to risk. Regarding psychological factors, some papers also explored the relationship between psychological traits and intention to visit [28,31,33], stress and fear caused by the pandemic [17,21,34], and adhering to pandemic rules [35]. However, there were no studies to explore the role of personality in tourists' reactions to the perceived risks and their changes in travel behavior influenced by COVID-19. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic created novel conditions for researching travel behavior and tourists’ reactions in times of crisis, which largely differs from previous studies of travel behavior affected by local risks or lower travel and recreational risks. This study aims to provide an understanding of the relationship between tourist personality (MINI IPIP-6 and sensation seeking), tourists’ reactions to travel risk perception and changes in their travel behavior influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. To explore this, a global survey including 905 respondents from four countries (Spain, Croatia, Serbia and Russia) was conducted, while data were analyzed by Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) in AMOS. The findings suggest that tourist personality affects the changes in travel behavior influenced by COVID-19, both directly and via their reactions to travel risk.
In 2020, not only did the Sars-Cov-2 virus become a global pandemic, but public life also changed in the wake of various infection control measures. Increased use of masks was one of the first clearly visible changes. With the masks came stories about masks. Who wore them, where people should wear them, and why? It quickly became clear, however, that stories about ‘the facemask’ also have a metaphorical content, negotiating not only problems of the pandemic as a social crisis, but also other social issues amalgamated through the use of masks and the surrounding narratives. Thus, masks not only prevented infection, but also fed and materialised the public imaginary of the pandemic and its challenges. From this perspective, we explore three exemplary cases from Germany and Finland in 2020 in which the mask played different roles as a socio-material phenomenon, linking theoretical perspectives on materiality and metaphors. Additionally, the analysis presents illustrations done by a visual artist. These illustrations capture the key content of the analysis in the form of drawings.
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The purpose of this study is to investigate and evaluate the impact of the global Covid-19 crisis on consumer spending tendencies in Turkey. The data of the study, which are weekly data, consists of the "Debit Card and Credit Card Expenditure" amounts of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) for the period 6/3/2015–5/8/2022. Changes in consumer expenditures during the Covid-19 pandemic process were examined with the help of structural break tests. The main contribution of this article subsists in an empirical study to examine structural breaks in Turkey using personal debit and credit card disaggregated total expenditure data during the Covid-19 period. According to the research findings; the change observed at the beginning of the Covid-19 period in card expenditures is less than the change observed at the end of the period. With the end of the pandemic, an upward breakout was observed in most of the expenditure items.
Our aim was to explore the association between COVID-19 pandemic-related product shortages and symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression in Australian families, concurrently and longitudinally, while controlling for demographic, health, and psychological characteristics. This prospective study used two waves of data (baseline, Time 0 = April 2020; Time 1 = May 2020) from a longitudinal cohort study of Australian parents of a child aged 0-18 years. Parents were surveyed at baseline about whether they had experienced product shortages related to COVID-19. DASS21 was used to measure symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress at both waves. The sample included 2,110 participants (N = 1,701, 80.6% mothers). About 68.6% of the respondents reported being impacted by one or more shortages. Product shortages correlated significantly with higher combined and individual scores for anxiety, depression, and stress (r = 0.007 to 0.18, all p < 0.001) at baseline. At Time 1, parental emotion regulation explained 4.0% of the variance (p < .001). Our findings suggest a role for improving parental emotion regulation in coping with stressors, such as shortages and lockdowns.
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Using a representative sample of 400 Slovaks, the study investigated the mediating role of subjective perception of financial threat to the relation between psychological resources and behavioural responses in the adaptation to financial stress posed by the COVID-19. The results showed that greater neuroticism and uncertainty intolerance were positively related to aggravated perception of financial threat. This led to greater willingness to change consumption patterns and use of mostly problem-focused coping strategies. The model remained robust after controlling for chronic financial hardship moderators, including the absence of savings and indebtedness. In contrast, acute financial hardship caused by the deterioration of one’s financial situation during the pandemic showed to significantly moderate the relation between one’s psychological resources and perceived financial threat.
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The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behaviour change and places significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioural sciences can be used to help align human behaviour with the recommendations of epidemiologists and public health experts. Here we discuss evidence from a selection of research topics relevant to pandemics, including work on navigating threats, social and cultural influences on behaviour, science communication, moral decision-making, leadership, and stress and coping. In each section, we note the nature and quality of prior research, including uncertainty and unsettled issues. We identify several insights for effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight important gaps researchers should move quickly to fill in the coming weeks and months.
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Decades of research document individual differences in prosocial behavior using controlled experiments that model social interactions in situations of interdependence. However, theoretical and empirical integration of the vast literature on the predictive validity of personality traits to account for these individual differences is missing. Here, we present a theoretical framework that identifies four broad situational affordances across interdependent situations (i.e., exploitation, reciprocity, temporal conflict, and dependence under uncertainty) and more specific sub-affordances within certain types of interdependent situations (e.g., possibility to increase equality in outcomes) that can determine when, which, and how personality traits should be expressed in prosocial behavior. To test this framework, we meta-analyzed 770 studies reporting on 3,523 effects of 8 broad and 43 narrow personality traits on prosocial behavior in interdependent situations modelled in six commonly studied economic games (Dictator Game, Ultimatum Game, Trust Game, Prisoner’s Dilemma, Public Goods Game, and Commons Dilemma). Overall, meta-analytic correlations ranged between -.18 ≤ r ≤ .26 and most traits yielding a significant relation to prosocial behavior had conceptual links to the affordances provided in interdependent situations, most prominently the possibility for exploitation. Moreover, for several traits, correlations within games followed the predicted pattern derived from a theoretical analysis of affordances. On the level of traits, we found that narrow and broad traits alike can account for prosocial behavior, informing the bandwidth-fidelity problem. In sum, the meta-analysis provides a theoretical foundation that can guide future research on prosocial behavior and advance our understanding of individual differences in human prosociality.
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Open-source software improves the reproducibility of scientific research. Because existing open-source tools often do not offer dedicated support for longitudinal data collection on phones and computers, we built formr, a study framework that enables researchers to conduct both simple surveys and more intricate studies. With automated email and text message reminders that can be sent according to any schedule, longitudinal and experience-sampling studies become easy to implement. By integrating a web-based application programming interface for the statistical programming language R via OpenCPU, formr allows researchers to use a familiar programming language to enable complex features. These can range from adaptive testing, to graphical and interactive feedback, to integration with non-survey data sources such as self-trackers or online social network data. Here we showcase three studies created in formr: a study of couples with dyadic feedback; a longitudinal study over months, which included social networks and peer and partner ratings; and a diary study with daily invitations sent out by text message and email and extensive feedback on intraindividual patterns.
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Structural equation modeling (SEM) is a vast field and widely used by many applied researchers in the social and behavioral sciences. Over the years, many software pack-ages for structural equation modeling have been developed, both free and commercial. However, perhaps the best state-of-the-art software packages in this field are still closed-source and/or commercial. The R package lavaan has been developed to provide applied researchers, teachers, and statisticians, a free, fully open-source, but commercial-quality package for latent variable modeling. This paper explains the aims behind the develop-ment of the package, gives an overview of its most important features, and provides some examples to illustrate how lavaan works in practice.
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Up until now, no really short instrument that measures the six personality dimensions of the HEXACO model has been available. In two studies, I report the construction of the Brief HEXACO Inventory (BHI), which represents the 24 HEXACO facets with 1 item per facet (i.e., 4 items per domain) and which takes approximately 2–3 min to complete. Although characterized by relatively low alpha reliability, its test–retest stability, self-other agreement, and convergent correlations with full-length scales are relatively high and its validity loss is only modest. Correcting for attenuation using a weighted average of alpha reliability, test–retest stability, and self-other agreement, the BHI re-estimates the original construct validity correlations of the HEXACO-PI-R with relatively great accuracy.
Large-scale emergencies such as the 2019/20 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic pose conflicts of interests between individual and societal welfare. One example is the run on many basic goods which affected countries experience. However, conflicts of interests also afford the expression of personality traits associated with individual differences in prosocial behaviour. HEXACO Honesty-Humility, in particular, is associated with prosocial behaviour at a personal cost. Across two studies (N = 601), Honesty-Humility was positively associated with refraining from stockpiling in the past and intentions to do so in the future. Surprisingly, this was not due to personality differences in beliefs that others would refrain from stockpiling. Instead, results suggest that individuals high in Honesty-Humility may have been motivated to maximise societal outcomes, even at the cost of foregoing individual gain. Overall, Honesty-Humility showed a relationship with individual differences in prosocial behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Open source software improves the reproducibility of scientific research. Because existing open source tools often do not offer dedicated support for longitudinal data collection on phones and computers, we built formr, a study framework that enables researchers to conduct both simple surveys and more intricate studies. With automated email and text message reminders according to any schedule, longitudinal and experience sampling studies become easy to implement. By integrating a web-based API for the statistical programming language R via OpenCPU, formr allows researchers to use a familiar programming language to enable complex features. These can range from adaptive testing to graphical and interactive feedback, to integration with non-survey data sources such as self-trackers or online social network data. Here, we showcase three studies created in formr: a study of couples with dyadic feedback; a longitudinal study over months including social networks, peer, and partner ratings; and a diary study with daily invitations by text message and email and extensive feedback on intraindividual patterns.
We review research and theory on the HEXACO personality dimensions of Honesty-Humility (H), Agreeableness (A), and Emotionality (E), with particular attention to the following topics: (1) the origins of the HEXACO model in lexical studies of personality structure, and the content of the H, A, and E factors in those studies; (2) the operationalization of the H, A, and E factors in the HEXACO Personality Inventory-Revised; (3) the construct validity of self-reports on scales measuring the H factor; (4) the theoretical distinction between H and A; (5) similarity and assumed similarity between social partners in personality, with a focus on H and A; (6) the extent to which H (and A and E) variance is represented in instruments assessing the "Five-Factor Model" of personality; and (7) the relative validity of scales assessing the HEXACO and Five-Factor Model dimensions in predicting criteria conceptually relevant to H, A, and E.