The unique blend of personality traits seen in Washington D.C. may reflect residents' diverse origins.
|Personality Traits Ranked (Out Of 49)
||District of Columbia
Researchers studying a set of psychological characteristics across the United States found that District residents are the least agreeable in the nation, the most open, and very nearly the most extroverted.
The data comes from the study "Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates" (pdf), published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The study's authors, led by Dr. Jason Rentfrow of the University of Cambridge, used a set of five psychological variables to evaluate 1.6 million survey respondents from across the country, excluding Alaska and Hawaii. They were scored on openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
Time magazine has posted a short version of the test, so anyone can see which state most closely aligns with one's personality.
The study presents evidence that the United States can be broken into three broad regions: "Friendly & Conventional" folks in the Midwest and South, "Relaxed & Creative" types clustered in the West, and "Temperamental & Uninhibited" people center in the Northeast.
This diagram maps the broad psychological regions categorized in the study.
Marylanders tracked most closely with the Temperamental & Uninhibited group, ranking low in tests of extroversion (44) and agreeableness (44) and relatively high in openness (14).
"This particular configuration of traits depicts the type of person who is reserved, aloof, impulsive, irritable, and inquisitive," according to the study. "There are disproportionate numbers of older adults and women in this region, in addition to affluent and college-educated individuals."
Virginia defied strong categorization, ranking in the middle of the pack for every category except openness, where it ranked No. 12.
The District displayed the strongest personality traits, but it too resists being characterized by one of the study's broad personality types. The city's high level of extroversion is most similar to states like Wisconsin in the Midwest; its singularly high level of openness would make it a good match for many of the states on the West Coast; and its bottom-of-the-barrel agreeableness is most similar to types found in New England.
It's not the first study that has failed to shoehorn a regional label onto the D.C. Metro region. Earlier this year, a study of regional dialects showed that language patterns in the District lean to the Northeast in some respects, to the South in others, and even occasionally to the West Coast.
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