Applying the HEXACO Model of Personality to German Livestock Farmers: Item Scale Validation, Personality Structure and Influence on Participation in Livestock Certification Schemes

Iris Schröter, Marcus Mergenthaler


Decisions made by farmers have impacts beyond the farm boundary, because farmers are the first link in the food supply chain. For this reason, understanding their decision-making behaviour may be of interest to all stakeholders of food systems. Since there is considerable evidence that personality traits may affect decision-making behaviour, we investigated personality traits utilising the HEXACO model of personality in a sample of 244 German livestock farmers. Based on comparisons with data obtained from existing literature that investigated the HEXACO personality traits using community samples and with preliminary data from an own community sample, we found that the livestock farmers differed from the general population. The farmers had higher scores in Honesty-Humility and Conscientiousness and were more emotionally stable. Results of a multinomial logistic regression model showed that personality traits influenced farmers’ decisions to participate in particular livestock certification schemes. While high Conscientiousness increased the probability of participating in conventional animal welfare schemes, high Openness to Experience facilitated participation in organic schemes. However, the results of a confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the German version of the short item scale used to measure the personality traits of the farmer sample should be partially modified. Even though the results should be understood rather as first indications and as a basis for further research, our findings extend the understanding of farmers’ personality and provide information on underlying factors of farmers’ decision-making related to participation in livestock certification schemes. They could help to better align support strategies, e.g. for more environmentally and animal-friendly production, with the personality of farmers.


livestock farmers; personality traits; HEXACO model of personality; livestock certification schemes

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ISSN 1869-6945


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