US LIVES UP TO ITS STEREOTYPEBy Rebecca Knight in Boston 2008-09-12
Many of the cultural stereotypes of Americans – such as the neurotic New Yorker, the friendly Midwesterner and the chilled-out California dude – may have some basis in fact.
A study by researchers at Cambridge university in the UK found that the personalities of people in the US often differ according to the state in which they live.
“Obviously it's not as simple as saying that you're guaranteed to be more anxious if you live in New York,” said Jason Rentfrow, a professor in social and political sciences at Cambridge, who led the study.
“But it does mean that if you live there, statistically you are going to run into people who are more irritable and anxious which, [because of the effects of] emotional contagion, is likely to rub off on you.”
Researchers analysed the results from more than a half million online surveys – as well as data from the Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and the Bureau of Labor Statistics – to create a “personality map” of the US.
Wisconsin, for instance, had high readings for extraversion and agreeableness but low for openness, suggesting that people there are sociable and traditional. Arizona, on the other hand, ranked high on conscientiousness but low on neuroticism, signifying that people there like order and discipline but are relatively relaxed.
The research team also found that personalities are geographically clustered. For instance, “neuroticism” was highest in the east along a line stretching from Maine to Louisiana, and lowest in the west, suggesting the country has an identifiable “stress belt”.
Prof Rentfrow said that the strongest personality traits within a given population become self-reinforcing by influencing the area's culture. Where the population was creative and intellectual – as was found to be the case in New York and California – one might expect to find people who were interested in art, literature and science, he said.
This, in turn, leads to the creation of universities and museums, which then have an effect on the views and values of the local people and encourage more creative and imaginative people to move to the region.
Prof Rentfrow said his work had applications in business. Companies planning to relocate may consider the personalities of people in the region as they consider their potential pool of employees. And start-ups may want to go where “openness” is high and there are more patents produced.
研究人员对50多万份网络调查结果以及来自人口调查局(Census Bureau)、疾病控制中心(Centers for Disease Control)和劳工统计局(Bureau of Labor Statistics)的数据进行了分析，旨在绘制一份美国“性格地图”。