How where you’re from influences who you are

Source: TOBIAS EBERT ET AL., PERSPECTIVES ON PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE, Atlas Obscura

By Christina Lorey

December 6, 2023

Can the state you call home influence your most prominent personality traits? Science says yes, and these maps from Atlas Obscura show how.

It’s called “Geopsychology,” and it’s the study of regional differences across five distinct personality traits, often referred to by their acronym, CANOE:

  • Conscientiousness
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism (aka, Emotional Stability)
  • Openness
  • Extraversion

Among all those variables, geographic location plays a significant role in their prevalence—that’s geopsychology! On these maps (click here), red means a certain personality trait is higher than average, while green means it’s lower than average. The darker the shade, the stronger the trait.

These personality traits are most common in Wisconsin:

How where you’re from influences who you are

Source: TOBIAS EBERT ET AL., PERSPECTIVES ON PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE, Atlas Obscura

Conscientiousness: Mixed Bag

High levels of conscientiousness display as a strong sense of duty, a high degree of discipline, and an intense desire to outperform expectations, according to Atlas Obscura. These are most common in people living in western Wisconsin—specifically the northwest region.

Low conscientiousness can manifest as being spontaneous and flexible, but also less orderly and reliable. That’s more common in eastern Wisconsin, especially in the northeast.

Agreeableness: Average to Very

People who are “agreeable” aim for social harmony and are prepared to compromise on their goals, according to Atlas Obscura. That’s most common near Eau Claire/La Crosse.

In the rest of the state, people aren’t disagreeable per say–they’re just not as go-with-the-flow.

Emotional Stability: Average to Very

To be emotionally stable, people are free from persistent negative emotions and have low levels of anxiety. Most of Wisconsin falls neither one way nor the other on this, with the exception being northwestern Wisconsin near the Twin Cities.

Openness: Not Very

A high degree of openness signals a willingness to try new things, and Wisconsin doesn’t have it. Like most of the midwest, with the exception of Chicago, Wisconsin has a decisively low degree of openness and primarily sticks to tradition.

Extraversion: Very

Extraverts are “the life of the party,” according to Atlas Obscura, and that describes Wisconsinites in nearly every part of the state, with the exception of the far north.

Extraversion is common across most of the midwest (Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska), as well as the Rust Belt (Ohio, Pennsylvania) and in the South (Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.)

Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

CATEGORIES: LOCAL CULTURE

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