2020 took America by surprise when the first person to be diagnosed with the Coronavirus was diagnosed with the infection in January. The fear of sickness and death contributed greatly to increasing Stress and anxiety levels in a panic-filled America. All of the societal changes such as the shutdown, having to quarantine, and lack of interaction also contributes to higher depression rates.
Increased anxiety and stress levels cause thousands of Americans to run to the store and buy toilet paper in bulk in case there would be a shortage. When the coronavirus outbreak started to spread across the western world, toilet paper sales increased by up to 700% between the months of February and March. The dramatic increase led psychologists to evaluate why certain people were panicking and buying toilet paper in bulk.
Personality Traits of Individuals Likely to Stockpile Toilet Paper:
Psychologists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology located in Leipzig, Germany conducted a study that assessed what personality factors are linked to those people that are likely to buy masses of toilet paper. Theo Toppe and his colleagues gave a survey to 996 individuals across 22 countries in Europe and North America. The survey asked them questions related to their habits related to storing and purchasing toilet paper. Those same individuals were then asked to rate their perceived threat of the Coronavirus outbreak using a ten point scale. They also took an exam that rated them based on various core personality traits.
The results of the study showed that individuals who felt that COVID-19 was a serious threat were more likely to rush to the store and buy toilet paper in bulk. In relation to the core personality traits, individuals that were more emotional tended to worry the most about the Coronavirus. Therefore, they were also the most likely to stockpile toilet paper. Conscientiousness was another personality trait strongly linked with buying toilet paper in bulk. Conscientiousness is a fundamental personality trait linked with the likelihood of being organized, responsible, goal-oriented, and hard-working.
While it makes sense that organized and goal-directed individuals wanted to buy toilet paper in bulk, it is not necessarily the “responsible” thing to do. Responsible adults should also be keeping the greater community in mind. The more toilet paper they hoard on, the less toilet paper is left for other families that might be in need of it. It can be pretty frustrating to go to all of the grocery stores only to find empty shelves where there should be toilet paper.
Another similar study that surveyed 1,029 individuals across 35 countries showed that older people were more likely to buy toilet paper in bulk as opposed to younger people. The results of the study also showed that Americans were more likely to stockpile on toilet paper than Europeans.
Increased Demands for Toilet Paper:
It is important to note that the increase in demand for toilet paper is not purely subjective (related to the perceived threat or anxiety levels that individuals have regarding the pandemic). Since the pandemic started, thousands of employees have started to work from home which means they are using their own bathroom during the day as well (as opposed to only after work). Therefore, individuals really are using more toilet paper than they were before the Coronavirus outbreak.
In nerve wrecking times such as theses, it is important to make sure you always have some toilet paper around the house.