Researcher Sianne Gordon-Wilson points out that “research hasn’t paid much attention to whether age or personality type has an effect on someone’s greenness.” It’s a fair point. How are we supposed to enact change when we’re unable to tap into different demographics and make a compelling argument for why they should “go green”?
Past campaigns have had some success in blending peer pressure into advertising models for why people should make more sustainable choices.
In this small-scale study with 204 participants, researchers from the University of Portsmouth Business School tried to dissect what personality types dictated whether UK adults over 50 would be green or not. They found that participants with more “open personalities” were the most green and extroverts were the least.
Gordon-Wilson stated in a press release:
“It isn’t surprising that people who we describe as open — those who are curious, imaginative and untraditional — are more likely to be green. But we were surprised that extroverts are less likely to be green. We had expected that of all the five main personality types, open and extrovert people would be the most green.”
The researchers suggest it’s because extroverts’ personalities lend them to be more distracted. But there’s also their age and the time they grew up in to consider. In my own home, we save the butter wrappings, so we may use them later on to coat pans when cooking. My dad has said I was born in the wrong era. This saving mentality is similar to what people in their 70s grew up with. Indeed, those who grew up in “the post-War era” are quite “familiar with rationing and hardship,” Gordon-Wilson said.
“A limitation of the previous research was it lumps all older people together. We know that someone in their early 50s will behave entirely differently to someone in their 70s. Someone aged 52 was born in the ’60s, a period of liberal social advances; they are likely to be working and have money and knowledge-related goals.”
But the researchers write, “[A]lthough the level of green behaviour increased with older consumers’ age, this did not reach significance.”
This research could help green advocates attract the attention of older adults, and a generation that will likely contribute to moving toward a greener state.
Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, thinks that the fact that climate change is upon us rather than an issue talked about in the future tense is helping to move people to action. But she discusses how the EPA can bring the climate conversation into the home:
Read more at Science Daily.
Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images.