States and personality traits
0 comment Monday, September 1, 2014 |
For what it's worth, "n/a" over at race/history/evolution notes posts some information on 'State-level differences in personality', from a report called "The Geography Of Personality; A Theory of the Emergence, Persistence and Expression of Geographic Variation in Basic Traits".
It's interesting stuff; from what I have read, it seems to tally with my own personal perceptions based on my having lived in and spent time in various states. For instance, guess which states are the highest-scoring states in 'neuroticism'.
Personality traits: Anxious, stressful and impulsive.
Highest-scoring states: West Virginia, Rhode Island, New York, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Arkansas.
Lowest-scoring states: Alaska, Oregon, South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Arizona, Nebraska, North Dakota, Nevada.
The first state listed surprises me, but the fact that New York is among the highest-scoring is not surprising to me. No offense to any reader living there, or hailing from there, but New Yorkers do seem to fit the profile listed above as being 'anxious, stressful [sic], and impulsive.'
I guess that's why I never liked the Seinfeld show; it had too much of that neurotic energy about it, like many of the real-life New Yorkers I knew. Where else do you meet 'average' people who have spent years in analysis? It's a hobby, or more accurately, a lifelong project for some people there.
Again, no offense to New Yorkers, but there is something to the stereotypes. And those of us with personality traits which diverge from the norm in a given area are like fish out of water there. It's better to be among people who exhibit similar outlooks and character traits in order to feel most at home.
The state I now live in is one of the lowest-scoring on neuroticism, which again does not surprise me. This state also has a low score on 'extraversion' which is also evident here. People here can be very nice and are very polite, but they are not easy to get close to, nor particularly welcoming to people from other areas -- unless of course, said people are immigrants, in which case they are treated with exaggerated niceness. Still, people here are rather standoffish.
The states that score highest on openness are also for the most part very liberal states. That, too, figures.
The trait of conscientiousness is found more frequently in some Southern states as well as some 'heartland' states. Same with 'agreeableness.'
Personality traits: Dutiful, responsible, self-disciplined.
Highest-scoring states: New Mexico, North Carolina, Georgia, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Florida, Arizona, Missouri.
Lowest-scoring states: Wyoming, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maine, Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York.
But the question is: why do various states exhibit varying levels of these traits, with certain states showing a tendency to have a sort of identifiable persona? Is there something in the air and water that makes people in different states different? Would moving to one of these states make me or anyone else become the 'typical' resident of that state? Maybe -- to a limited extent. I often wondered if staying in that overcrowded multicultural warren that is New York City would turn me into a real New Yorker. No doubt it would have some effect on me if I had stayed there forever, but I don't think it would change my basic traits.
If the people in Washington State manifest different traits than the people in New York (City or state) it would probably be because the people who settled Washington State tended to be people of different ethnic stock than those in New York or Massachusetts. The early pioneers in the West tended to be Anglo-Saxon (New England stock, sometimes via the Midwest) or Scandinavian or German. New York obviously received many more Southern Europeans and Eastern Europeans.
It isn't the 'culture' which makes the person or the ethnic group, but vice-versa.
If I were planning to look for a new home, I would seek out the states where people had higher levels of conscientiousness and 'agreeableness' and lower levels of 'openness' and neuroticism.

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