Are liberals and neurodiverse people more likely environmentalists?

Before the Covid pandemic, Greta Thunberg made quite a splash being both a teenage and neurodiverse environmentalist. She still has a 5 million followership on Twitter and her followers include luminaries such as Stephen Fry, Bill Nye, Scott Barry Kauffmann, Richard Branson and environmentalist Naomi Klein. Politically environmentalism is associated more with the left than the right, but could it also be that neurodiverse people are more likely to be environmentalists than completely neurotypical people?

I have argued before that both liberals and neurodiverse people have more hunter-gatherer genes (egalitarianism included) and therefore have different attitudes towards the environment than sedentary farmer types. These types are roughly equivalent to N (intuitive) and SJ personality types in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) respectively.

Here are some of the most famous enviornmentalists with their MBTI, all of them intuitives:

Greta Thunberg: INTJ

Severn Cullis-Suzuk: ENTJ

Jane Goodall: INFJ

Naomi Klein: INTP

Rachel Carson: INFJ

Al Gore: ENTJ

Some people on the spectrum who are environmentalists include:

Greta Thunberg: INTJ
Daryl Hannah: INTP

Temple Grandin: INTP

David Byrne: INTP

Some famous environmentalists, like Winona LaDuke, even have hunter-gatherer heritage.

Even though our hunter-gatherer ancestors were responsible for the extinction of countless species they generally live much more sustainably than agrarian+ societies did:

Because immediate-return hunter-gatherers lived, for the most part, off the direct flows from nature, it was immediately apparent when the flow of nature’s services was disturbed. sustainability meant sustaining the ability of nature to provide the necessities of life. Hunter-gatherers have displayed the ability to substitute certain natural resources for many others, but care was taken to maintain the flow of nature’s bounty (Woodburn 1980:101).

Forager sustainable lifestyle is not merely a byproduct of their specific way of life, but often a conscious choice. Louis Liebenberg writes:

/Dzau /Dzaku of Grootlaagte and independently !Nam!kabe Molote of Lone Tree in Botswana explained to me a conservation ethic practised by Kalahari hunter-gatherers. During periods of drought plant foods would be scarce. If a particular plant was scarce, they would not exploit it, but leave it so that the population can grow back again. This meant that they had to hunt more animals to survive. In addition to animals dying due to the drought, hunters would have killed more animals, thereby reducing animal populations. After the first good rains, when plant foods recovered, they would then stop hunting to allow animal populations to recover. (The Origin of Science, 2021)

N (intuition) in MBTI is correlated with openness to experience (as is liberalism). So there should be a correlation between environmentalism and openness as well:

Here, we report the results of two 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. ()

Of course, there are plenty of farmer types/conservatives who support environmentalism too, however, they tend to get concerned only when they are directly concerned, whereas liberals/hunter-gatherer types are more worried about the global health of our planet.

Originally published at on October 27, 2021.