A unique social phenomenon during the new crown epidemic was the rush to buy and stock toilet paper. Consumer behavior researcher Kit Yarrow explains that panic buying at times of crisis is not uncommon, and when the world is in uncertainty and danger, panic buying is partly to gain a sense of control. We can’t control the spread of the disease, so we turn to things we can control, such as procurement.
Through procurement, we feel like we’re preparing and taking control of the situation, which is why we’re hoarding. Now, according to a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, German scientists have linked this hoarding behavior to personal traits. The researchers recruited 996 adults through social media to complete a personality questionnaire to determine their personality traits, such as emotional, extrovel, responsible, affinity, and so on.
The researchers also asked them how often they were aware of the COVID-19 threat and how often they had purchased toilet paper over the past two weeks. The researchers found that the strongest predictor of hoarding behavior was their perception of the COVID-19 threat, and the more feared they were, the more likely they were to hoard.
Researchers believe that people who hoard toilet paper are simply looking for a safety symbol.