“Green” Personality Traits Predict Environmentally Friendly Behavior

Brick, C., & Lewis, G. J. (2016). Unearthing the “green” personality: Core traits predict environmentally friendly behavior. Environment and Behavior, 48 (5), 635-658.

Research on predictors of environmentally friendly behavior has tended to focus on attitudes, values, and norms. This study investigated the role of basic personality traits in predicting a component of environmentalism: actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., using public transportation, composting, reducing meat consumption). Brick and Lewis (2016) predicted that environmental attitudes would mediate the relationship between personality traits and environmental behavior. They administered measures of environmental attitudes, environmental behaviors, and a measure of the HEXACO six-factor model (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Emotionality, and Honesty-Humility) to 345 U.S. adults in an online survey. Results showed that Openness and Conscientiousness best predicted environmental behaviors, and that their effects were mediated by environmental attitudes, such as the belief that human actions contribute to environmental change. While several facets of Conscientiousness (e.g., Organization, Diligence, Perfectionism) were associated with environmentalism, the facet of Openness most strongly associated with environmentalism was Aesthetic Appreciation. The authors suggested that future research investigate whether training in aesthetic appreciation, such as in the visual arts, could possibly increase pro-environmental behavior.

Making Connections

Big Five Personality Traits
Mediating Variable
Prosocial Behavior

Media Supplement

This brief video illustrates how openness and environmentalism may be connected via creative reuse.