Profiling the “Pro-Environmental Individual”: A Personality Perspective


  • This research was facilitated by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to the first author. Funds for the second author were provided by Grant AG20048 from the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Public Health Service.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ezra M. Markowitz, Department of Psychology, 1227 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1227. Email:


There is considerable scientific interest in the psychological correlates of pro-environmental behaviors. Much research has focused on demographic and social-psychological characteristics of individuals who consistently perform such actions. Here, we report the results of 2 studies in which we explored relations between broad personality traits and pro-environmental actions. Using a wide variety of behavior and personality measures, we consistently found moderate positive relations between Openness to Experience and pro-environmental activities in both a community sample (Study 1: N = 778) and an undergraduate student sample (Study 2: N = 115). In Study 2, we showed that the effect of Openness on pro-environmental behaviors was fully mediated by individuals’ environmental attitudes and connection to nature. Our findings suggest that high levels of aesthetic appreciation, creativity, and inquisitiveness, but not personality traits associated with altruism, may have motivated the performance of pro-environmental actions among our respondents. Implications for intervention development are discussed.