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Mindful : April 2014
28 mindful April 2014 mind science ca n participate at personali- ty-project.org) and Facebook’s My Personality app. The 1.6 million sample skewed young but was otherwise nationally representative in gender, eth- nicity, education, and other characteristics. What did they find? The “neuroticism belt,” the data showed, runs roughly in a curve from Maine to the southeast to Louisiana, never reaching the mellow West or Midwest. Extraversion is highest in the friendly Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeast and lowest in the Northwest and Northeast. You’re more likely to find agreeable and conscien- tious people in the Midwest and Southeast but not the Northeast (take that, all you surly and irresponsible New Yorkers). Openness—willingness to entertain novel ideas and embrace new experi- ences—is highest in the New England, Middle Atlantic, a nd Pacific states a nd low in the Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeast. The researchers ultimately used combinations of the Big Five to come up with three personality types: conven- tional a nd friendly, rela xed and creative, and tempera- mental a nd uninhibited. Conventiona l and friendly is defined by moderately high conscientiousness, ag reeable- ness, and extraversion (these folks a re friendly even to strangers); fairly low neuroti- cism; and very low openness. You find this type a lot in the north-central Great Plains and South. People there are sociable, considerate, dutiful, and traditional. They have higher levels of what’s called social capital (they pa rtic- ipate in associations like PTAs, bowling leagues, and churches) and less tolera nce for people different from themselves a nd for ideas at odds with their own. The con- ventional-and-f riendly belt overlaps with the politically conser vative red states a nd bypasses the Rocky Mountain states, the Pacific Coast, a nd the mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Rela xed-a nd-creative types score low in extraversion and ag reeableness, very low in neuroticism, and very high in openness. This personal- ity cluster cha racterizes the Pacific seaboard and Rocky Mountain states, which a re comparatively low in social capital but high in their toler- ance for cultural diversity. People in these regions value open-mindedness, tolera nce, and individualism and tend toward the blue end of the political spectrum. Conversely, residents of the Midwest, Great Plains, and Gulf Coast are the least rela xed and creative. The temperamen- tal-a nd-uninhibited person- ality type is marked by low ext raversion, very low ag ree- ableness a nd conscientious- ness, very high neuroticism, and moderately high open- ness. Such people tend to be “reser ved, a loof, impulsive, irritable, and inquisitive,” Rentfrow says. “ Residents are passionate, competitive, and liberal.” You’ll find them in New England and the mid-Atla ntic states a nd less so in the Southeast, Great Plains, a nd Rockies. What explains the sharp personality differences between regions? In part, self-selection: people tend to move to places where they’ll feel comfortable and leave areas where they don’t fit in. “Not just anyone picks up and moves,” says Rentfrow. The creative, iconoclastic, authority-challenging kid in Fa rgo is more likely to head for San Francisco than is her tradition-bound classmate,