PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A fascinating new study shows that similar personality types are so likely to cluster in certain areas of the country that a map of the United States can actually be divided into regions with distinct personalities.
Researchers in the study, which was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, first analyzed the personality traits of 1.5 million people based on a variety of surveys. They were then able to develop three separate psychological types based on “Big 5” personality traits – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
What the scientists found is that when they overlaid the findings on a national map, certain psychological profiles were predominant in three different areas of the country.
Those living in the north-central Great Plains and the South, for example, tend to be conventional and friendly, while those who reside on the Western or Eastern seaboards are relaxed and creative. New Englanders and those living in the Mid-Atlantic are typically uninhibited and temperamental.
People living on the Eastern seaboard, where Philadelphia and New York are located, also tend to be more culturally and ethnically diverse, more liberal, wealthier, more educated, comparatively healthy and less likely to be Protestant than those living in other regions.
Conversely, people residing in the areas deemed conventional and friendly are typically less affluent, less educated, more politically conservative, more likely to be Protestant and less healthy compared to people in the other regions. And those living in the temperamental and uninhibited region are more likely to be females, older adults and overall more liberal, affluent and liberal.
“This analysis challenges the standard methods of dividing up the country on the basis of economic factors, voting patterns, cultural stereotypes or geography that appear to have become ingrained in the way people think about the United States,” said lead author Peter J. Rentfrow, PhD, of the University of Cambridge. “At the same time, it reinforces some of the traditional beliefs that some areas of the country are friendlier than others, while some are more creative.”
Researchers theorize that migration patterns and social influences may have shaped the regional personalities, but caution that further studies are needed.
To read about the study, click here.