Think you can judge a person by the state they live in? It might not be such a crazy notion according to new research on the geography of personality. Controlling for factors like race, income, and education, the study profiled 600,000 Americans with a 44-question personality test that evaluates five traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.
Using those results and cross-checking them with stats on crime and health seem to seal the deal on one's state of mind lining up with one's state of residence. High amiability means lower crime, high anxiety points to poor health and lowered life expectancy.
Of course the results spark questions like whether certain states encourage specific personalities by culture, climate, or common history — or whether we just choose to live where we feel most at home. Those questions aside, the results and the interactive maps? Fun times! Very nicely done, Wall Street Journal.
To see some of the most unusual findings,
- North Dakota was pegged the most outgoing state in the union.
- Despite Puritanical stereotypes, New England ranked at the bottom of the "conscientious" scale.
- Scoring well on the "openness" scale strongly correlates to liberal social values and Democratic voting habits — however three of the top ten "open" states (Nevada, Colorado and Virginia) tend to swing Red.
- Most conscientious? Florida. (Maybe there's a tie between living in a coastal paradise and pitying others who don't?)
- Anxiety isn't just tied to high-powered jobs and a fast lifestyle. States stressed by poverty, like West Virginia and Mississippi also proved highly neurotic.
Where does your state stack up? Is it possible to make generalizations about the personality of an entire state's population? Do you match yours?