What is YOUR city’s personality type? New research shows that people in Manhattan are open-minded, while those in San Antonio are agreeable
St. Louis County, Minnesota is the most “extroverted” place in the US and its opposite, Gwinnett County, Georgia to the south, is the most “introverted” place, new research shows.
The new research from Florida Atlantic University aims to determine whether communities across the country have different personalities by mapping large amounts of data from a Harvard-based personality test to each of the test-taker’s counties across America.
By county, the researchers uncovered many unexpected data points: Brazos, Texas, county, for example, is the “most neurotic.”
But they also confirmed a number of stereotypes: Manhattan scored both least “conscientious” and least “agreeable,” the study found.
The research also found that the benefits of this “personality polarization” were decidedly mixed – the benefits that this team of psychologists and data scientists measured in terms of reported outcomes for health, education, and general well-being.
Disparate enclaves of dominant personality traits are emerging by county in the U.S., according to a new study. But findings were mixed on the benefits
People who scored high on “conscientiousness” tended to have better educational outcomes if they lived in a province full of people who were much less conscientious or even downright rude, at least according to their analysis.
“To the extent that communities are diverse, people can ‘fit together’ in multiple ways,” said the study’s lead author, a psychologist. Dr. Kevin Lanning.
“One way to capture this idea,” says Dr. Lanning, a lecturer at Florida Atlantic University, “is to describe both individuals and communities in terms of types.”
Lanning and his colleagues from the University of Oregon and the University of Toronto focused on five traits for which national data was available, and each trait is the opposite.
These traits were: openness versus narrow-mindedness, neuroticism versus stability, conscientiousness versus laxity, extraversion versus introversion, and agreeableness versus disagreeableness.
Two more scales were also administered, measuring a person’s level of “honesty and humility,” as well as an individual’s place on the conservative to liberal continuum.
It has been known for years that increasing political polarization is changing the landscape of the US, with Americans drawn to places that best suit their own views.
Their study, published in January in the journal Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychologyused data from Harvard Synthetic Diaphragm Personality Assessment (SAPA) Project..
Each of these seven total scales was assessed against the extent to which individuals benefited from being surrounded by similar personality types or ‘person-community fit’ in terms of education, health and well-being.
Of those total 21 comparison tests, there were 13 cases in which a person’s match (or clash) with the dominant local personality trait appeared to be ‘significant’ for their well-being, health or education level.
“Although these effects,” the researchers note, “were generally small.”
People who scored high on both Honesty-Humility and Conscientiousness seemed to have higher well-being when surrounded by equally nice people – but paradoxically scored lower on both educational progress and healthy behavior.
The opposite was true with ‘openness’, with the open people reporting poorer well-being when surrounded by the equally talkative people, despite appearing healthier and better educated.
Manhattan had the highest percentage of “open” people, but perhaps not surprisingly the lowest percentage of people who were “agreeable” or “conscientious”
Of the counties with more than 500 respondents to Harvard’s SAPA dataset, Bexar County, San Antonio had the highest percentage of “agreeable” people
“Just as the ethnic character of a community can be described by the proportions of different ethnic groups,” Lanning said, “the psychological character of a community can perhaps best be understood by a set of proportions of psychological types.”
But the psychologist cautioned that the limited data from provinces with smaller populations may have skewed some of his team’s research.
“It is important to note that when comparing different provinces it is inevitable that small provinces end up at the extremes,” said Dr. Lanning.
Two of the smaller US counties, Yamhill Oregon and Santa Barbara California, showed dramatic results during these 21 comparative analyses, but the authors noted that the ‘results for these smaller counties likely reflected higher volatility of proportions due to sample size .’
Of the counties with more than 500 respondents to Harvard’s SAPA dataset, Bexar County, San Antonio had the highest percentage of “agreeable” people.
Manhattan had the highest percentage of “open” people, but perhaps not surprisingly the lowest percentage of people who were “agreeable” or “conscientious.”
In fact, the percentage of open-minded people in Manhattan was found to be almost twice that of Detroit, although people in Detroit were twice as likely as Manhattanites to be classified as conscientious.
Citizens of both According to the new study, Florida’s Palm Beach and Broward counties had about the same number of open-minded and conscientious people.
Although these larger data sets made the predictions for these provinces more likely, Dr. Lanning is careful not to make too many blanket generalizations about your neighbors.
“Comparisons between individual provinces should be made with caution,” he said.