A comprehensive review of 17 studies on personality traits and diet, carried out by researchers at the University of Zurich, has found a strong correlation between certain personality traits and dietary habits. The study suggests that individuals who are open to trying new things and possess warm, polite characteristics are more likely to follow a vegan lifestyle. On the other hand, those who are closed off, resistant to change, and often disagreeable tend to favor a diet centered around meat.
The research, which involved nearly 70,000 participants from various countries, utilized the Big Five inventory to measure personality traits, including openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness. Results showed that individuals who identified as vegans or vegetarians scored higher in traits related to openness and agreeableness. Furthermore, vegans had even higher levels of openness compared to vegetarians.
The study revealed that openness is associated with curiosity, a desire for knowledge, and a willingness to try new experiences. It is also connected to friendly and compassionate attitudes, particularly towards animals and the environment, which often translates into a preference for veganism. Similarly, agreeableness, characterized by warmth, compassion, and politeness, is linked to concerns about animal welfare and the environment, leading individuals with this personality trait to adopt vegetarian or vegan diets.
Interestingly, the study did not find consistent associations between neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, and dietary preferences, suggesting that only openness and agreeableness significantly impact food choices. The researchers were surprised to find no link between neuroticism and vegetarianism, as they had hypothesized that individuals who display higher levels of neuroticism would be more likely to follow such diets.
Furthermore, the study revealed that women are more likely to lean towards agreeableness and choose a vegan diet. These findings align with previous studies highlighting the influence of left-leaning political preferences and egalitarian beliefs on vegan lifestyles.
The researchers hope that their findings will contribute to a better understanding of the motivations behind vegetarian and vegan diets, which not only have positive impacts on animal rights but also play a role in sustainability, reducing the risk of zoonotic diseases, and improving public health.
The study, published in the journal Appetite, sheds light on the intricate relationship between personality traits and dietary habits, highlighting the importance of considering individual differences when examining food choices and preferences.