Americans stockpiled more toilet paper than Europeans following the fast spread of Covid-19 across Europe and North America in March, says a study according to Covid-19 pandemic updates.
The researchers decided to probe who were more likely to stockpile after 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, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers surveyed more than 1,000 adults from 35 countries who were recruited through social media.
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Between March 23-29, participants completed the Brief HEXACO Inventory — which ranks six broad personality domains — and shared information on their demographics, perceived threat level of COVID-19, quarantine behaviours, and toilet paper consumption in recent weeks.
The most robust predictor of stockpiling was the perceived threat posed by the pandemic, meaning that people who felt more threatened tended to stockpile more toilet paper.
“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,” said co-author of the study Theo Toppe from Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.
Around 20 per cent of this effect was also 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 than younger people. (IANS)