More and more, folks are clustering together with like-minded folks, especially in the U.S. Different places in America have different political beliefs. But what about personality? Do people in these areas share similar personalities? And does being a good fit for your community make you healthier, happier, or more successful?
To tackle this question, a study led by Kevin Lanning, a psychology and data science professor at Florida Atlantic University, along with his team, looked into how well people’s personalities matched their communities and how it affected their education, health, and happiness.
At first, they used standard methods to see if people’s personalities matched their communities. But comparing individual scores to community averages was tricky because individuals naturally have more variation than communities.
So, they came up with a new way. They thought of communities as diverse environments, just like people are diverse. They categorized people based on their most extreme personality trait, like how outgoing or calm they are, and then looked at the percentage of each type in different communities.
Their findings, published in the journal Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology, showed that the new method revealed more significant personality differences between communities than the traditional approaches. For instance, Manhattan has more open-minded people compared to Detroit, while Detroit has more conscientious people.
In Palm Beach and Broward counties, there’s a similar mix of open-minded and conscientious folks. Bexar County, San Antonio, has the highest proportion of agreeable people among counties with over 500 respondents.
However, the researchers caution that smaller counties are more likely to show extreme results, and their sample might not represent every county accurately.
They also found some evidence that people who match their community’s personalities are happier, healthier, and achieve more in terms of education.
In essence, communities vary not only in demographics but also in personalities, and being surrounded by like-minded people can lead to positive outcomes.
Lanning suggests that just as we describe a community’s ethnic makeup by its proportions of different ethnic groups, we could understand its psychological makeup by its proportions of different personality types.
The study’s co-authors include Geoff Wetherell, a psychology professor at FAU, along with researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of Oregon.