Survey Says: Californians Open, Unneurotic
A couple of weeks ago Time posted this United States Mood Map, based on a study published in the October Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Normally, we’d take this with a grain of salt, but this was a 13-year study that quizzed about 1.6 million respondents from around the U.S., including 177,085 Californians.
Californians, News Fix readers will be interested to know, rank No. 2 among states in terms of openness (“curiosity and a preference for novelty,” says Time) and all the way down at No. 43 for neuroticism. (We’ll have to assume Bay Area housing-seekers and Oakland A’s fans were underrepresented.) West Virginia was the most neurotic and Utah the least.
How Californians ranked among the states:
- Openness – 2
- Conscientiousness – 37
- Extroversion – 24
- Agreeableness – 29
- Neuroticism – 43
Feel free to click away in an orgy of West Coast confirmation bias (see: Nebraska and Iowa: openness; New York: agreeableness) here.
The broad results, as written up by Time:
When the returns were tallied, the country broke down into three macro regions: New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, which the researchers termed “temperamental and uninhibited”; the South and Midwest, which were labeled “friendly and conventional”; and the West Coast, Rocky Mountains and Sun Belt, described as “relaxed and creative.” How they earned these labels was evident from the regions’ Big Five [personality test] scores, with the temperamental and uninhibited states, for example, blowing the doors off the rest of the country on the neuroticism scale and the relaxed and creative ones similarly leading on openness.
There is no shortage of historical and geographical explanations for why the regions break down the way they do, but migration is the biggest piece of the puzzle. Pioneers who moved West were, by definition, people with open, curious, flexible temperaments, traits that become part of the settled regions’ DNA and were passed down through the generations. The researchers found a creative way to confirm this theory, comparing the date the 48 surveyed states became part of the union with their relaxed and creative profile. The result: the later a state joined, the higher its score turned out to be. That very openness and wanderlust stays with the native-born residents of these regions, often impelling them to keep right on moving.