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Personality and pro-environmental behaviour
Personality and individual differences in general have long been an important variable in understanding human behavioural and health outcomes.1 The wide variability of personality traits indicates that all major personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness) are adaptive at all levels of expression,2 but ‘adaptive’ does not mean ‘good’ and while all patterns of personality traits potentially lead to some desirable proximal outcomes to individuals in certain environmental contexts, some patterns lead to more socially appropriate and healthier outcomes than others.3–5 Thus, we can reasonably imagine such a thing as a ‘healthy’ personality,3 at least in terms of the behavioural outcomes it is likely to produce for the individual4 and, perhaps more importantly, for the environment.3 5
The health benefits of a sustainable environment are numerous: from clean air and water, to spaces for recreation and regeneration, but in order to attain sustainable environments, there first needs to be a shift towards pro-environmental behaviour on the individual, as well as on the societal level.3 Personality traits have been investigated as predictors of pro-environmental behaviour in order to understand how to better explain and promote pro-environmental behaviour, yet often such studies yield small or even insignificant effects because personality traits are not very good predictors of specific behaviours.6 Despite that, most research indicates that socially desirable personality traits such as extraversion, openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness are usually positively related to pro-environmental behaviour, while neuroticism is negatively related to pro-environmental behaviour.3 5 Correlational results between pro-environmental behaviours and personality traits, however, are often inconsistent and even if the effects are in the predicted direction, they are …
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