Can Recycling Make You More Attractive?

Psychologists from the Universities of Worcester and Wolverhampton conducted two experiments that showed having greener credentials, such as a willingness to recycle and reduce your carbon footprint, are important traits when it comes to attraction and relationships.

“Our results show that, as with other forms of prosocial behaviours such as altruism, pro-environmentalism can act as a signal to others of important characteristics that an environmentally-friendly individual possesses,” said Dr Daniel Farrelly, from the University of Worcester. “These characteristics are viewed in a positive light, and in particular they can signal characteristics (such as kindness, potential to be a good partner and parent) we find important in relationships, in particular more longer-term, committed ones.”

The study, which asked participants to rate descriptions of individuals according to their environmental behaviour, involved a mix of men and women who all identified as being heterosexual. 157 participants took part in the first experiment and 307 took part in the second.

The study has now been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences: 

“We found that both men and women found individuals high in pro-environmentalism to be more desirable overall, and this effect was mainly for long-term relationships,” said Dr Farrelly.

“But we also found that both men and women reported being more pro-environmental in their own behaviours when in the presence of attractive members of the opposite sex.”

He continued: “It reflects the growing value we put on pro-environmental behaviours and attention it now rightly receives, but also, I think it shows the increasing ways in which pro-environmentalism and sustainability incorporates a whole host of different day-to-day behaviours we now engage in.

“Findings such as this, where we can show that there are clear and immediate indirect benefits to being green (in this case, increased desirability as a romantic partner) are helpful, as they can be used to promote and shape positive behaviours overall.”