We’ve got personality

September 24, 2008

Do states have collective personalities? Research just published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science says so, and, based on 600,000 questionnaires, states were ranked in five categories: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness:

Psychologists unaffiliated with the study say it’s intriguing but limited. There’s no way to unravel the chicken-and-egg question: Do states tend to nurture specific personalities because of their histories, cultures, even climates? Or do Americans, seeking kindred spirits, migrate to the states where they feel at home? Maybe both forces are at work — but in what balance?

Another issue: The personality maps may reinforce stereotypes and tempt us to draw overly simplistic conclusions, said Toni Schmader, a psychologist at the University of Arizona. Knowing Arizona ranks low in neuroticism, Ms. Schmader said, she might conclude that sunny weather makes for sunny dispositions. But if the data had turned out the other way, the sun could just as easily be blamed for high neuroticism — for driving Arizonans stir crazy by keeping them cooped up in air conditioning.

Indiana ranks fairly high on the neuroticsm (13th), conscientiousness (14th) and agreeableness (19th) scales, not so high on the openness and extraversion scales (34th in each).  Of the states in our neighborhood, Illinois is both the most extroverted (figures), conscientious and open, Michigan is the most agreeable, and Kentucky is the most neurotic.


One Response to “We’ve got personality”

  1. Bob G. Says:

    …And (regarding Kentucky) has the best BOURBON.


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