Extroverts are the least likely to adopt a green lifestyle, according to new research from the University of Portsmouth Business School.

The study examined people over the age of 50 to try and see if personality type affects how green a person actually is. The results concluded that those who had “open” personalities were the most green and extroverts were the least. The study's findings, published in the journal Futures, by study authors Sianne Gordon-Wilson and Pratik Modi, call for greater attempts by government and advertisers to step up green education for aging people.

“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,” Gordon-Wilson said.

It might be helpful to define what an extrovert is. When someone thinks of an extrovert, they think of a “social” person. But according to the Myers-Brigg Foundation, extraversion is a personality type of a person who gets energy from involvement in events and a lot of different activities. Thus, it is much more related to a person who feels comfortable in a group as opposed to the loudest talker in a group.

Extroverts may be theoretically green, but according to the researchers, they are easily distracted by other competing social activities for their attention. That is, they might agree with the theoretical tenets of living an environmentally conscious and green lifestyle, but they struggle to put that into practice. Some of the behaviors that are associated as “green” include turning off the lights, turning off the television, and not using more water than you need.

The study surveyed 204 people aged 50 or over using two different theories. The first is the “socio-emotional selective theory,” which generally describes the way aging people choose selective, emotionally meaningful activities because the amount of time they have is lessening. The other is the “time perspective theory,” which is used to understand how people behave in relation to how much time they assume they have. Clearly, someone who is 51 years old is going to have different goals and make different practical decisions than someone who is 70 years old, because their perspectives and goals are different.

“A limitation of the previous research was it lumps all older people together. 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,” Gordon-Wilson said.  

In the UK, people over 50 make up over a third of the population, which makes them important socially and politically as the country tries to make an environmental push toward a more green lifestyle. 

Source: Gordon-Wilson S, Modi P. Personality and older consumers' green behavior in the UK. Futures. 2015.