Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Regional Personality Differences in Great Britain

I'm not sure what to make of the results reported in this article on personality variation across Great Britain published in PLOS One on March 24.
The study examines five aspects of personality: (A) Extraversion. (B) Agreeableness. (C) Conscientiousness. (D) Neuroticism. (E) Openness. For each personality trait, the areas in blue are comparatively low and the areas in red are comparatively high.
Looking at figure (A), extraversion, high levels are in London and the Home Counties, Yorkshire, Manchester, and a few parts of Scotland, "suggesting that large proportions of residents of these areas were social, talkative, and energetic. In contrast, significantly low levels of Extraversion were concentrated in the East Midlands, Wales, Humberside, the North of England, and councils in East Scotland, suggesting that large proportions of residents of these areas were quiet, reserved, and introverted."

There's enough scope in these results to appeal to all prejudices!

Considered alongside similar results for the US the authors conclude that on the aggregate-level: Extroversion reflects residents who are enterprising and physically healthy; Agreeableness residents who are communal and conventional; Conscientiousness the degree residents are politically and socially conservative, nonviolent, and physically healthy; Neuroticism is higher in regions where individuals are inclined toward anxiety and instability and where there appear to be large proportions of physically unhealthy and economically disadvantaged residents; Openness represents the degree to which residents are liberal, non-traditional, and educated.

Looking at these maps alongside the recently published map from the People of the British Isles project there is no evidence that these personality characteristics have a dominant genetic basis. It would be interesting to know about the stability of these personality characteristics over time. Could short-term events or trends, such a declining economy, have changed the mood locally? How reasonable is it that our ancestors might have carried the personality characteristics of their home region with them as they emigrated?

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