Are Geography and Personality Related?
Another important factor pertaining to cities that Richard Florida touches on is the distribution through cities of the big 5 personality traits.
It is not a new idea to suggest that people of similar types usually cluster around a certain area, indicating that geographic distribution has some correlation to the personalities of the people that live in a specific location. The ‘big five’ model is a widely acclaimed psychological model suggesting five different types of personalities, following the acronym OCEAN – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion Agreeableness and Neuroticism. It’s a psychologicall proven test that can help to determine not only our personality and the range we fall into, but might also determine the place we live in or the community we belong to.
Peter J. Rentfrow, Samuel D. Gosling, and Jeff Potter conducted an interesting study titled “Geography of Personality”, in which they determined the significance of geography and location to the personality of various people in the United States of America. Although this study is primarily based on data pertaining to the USA, it gives an interesting portrait of the ways in which geographic areas can come to be associated with a particular personality trait.
Here are 5 different maps based on the State Personality Map showing the various levels of different personality types distributed around USA.
The above maps suggest that industrialised areas with a large group of machineries correspond to agreeable and conscientious personality types. As Florida writes: “agreeable and conscientious personality types are heavily concentrated in old industrial regions like Pittsburgh and Detroit, where rule-driven mass production industry took root, and also in the sunbelt, especially along the Interstate 75 corridor that cuts through Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, where a large number of newer heavy manufacturing firms like the Japanese and German automotive transplants have located.”
On the other hand, the Neurotic and open personality types are concentrated around New York City and the mid-west industrial regions. This is evident in many parts of New York City, known as it is for creative aesthetics such as arts and music. However, “the most extroverted states are in the Upper Midwest and northern Plains and parts of the South”, stretching from greater Chicago through to Southern Florida. So people-oriented personalities who tend to be very social are usually found in these parts of the United States.
In some places people come to acquire personality traits that reflect their practices, lifestyles and beliefs. It could be that people in these locations have acquired specific personality traits over time by living in the same community for a long time, or that the location itself has attracted specific personalities through jobs, education and industrial benefits. For instance, most open-minded places such as New York and California (which rank high on the map), according to this theory, exert a strong pull for people who are similarly open minded; even people who do not initially have traits belonging to this category may acquire them after living in the place for a long time.