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.