We are a state of dutiful people marching responsibly through life in sensible shoes. A new study linking personality to geography reveals Kansas to be a state that values rules, structure, discipline.We are, in fact, No. 5 in America in “Conscientiousness,” according the study released earlier this month by the University of Cambridge in England.
We are a state of dutiful people marching responsibly through life in sensible shoes. A new study linking personality to geography reveals Kansas to be a state that values rules, structure, discipline.We are, in fact, No. 5 in America in “Conscientiousness,” according the study released earlier this month by the University of Cambridge in England.We paint by the numbers, keep our nose to the grindstone and our eye on the ball.In such a state, we may rely on clichés like those rather than try to express ourselves more creatively.Only New Mexico, North Carolina, Georgia and Utah rank above us in conscientiousness. Our neighbors in Oklahoma and Nebraska rank just below us.At the bottom are those irresponsible states, Hawaii, Maine and Alaska.The study analyzes the country through five personality traits. The rest are Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism and Openness.Researchers attempt to show how people differ in personality according to where they live.Kansas ranks high in Extroversion (13th) and Agreeableness (17th). It is lower in Neuroticism (34th) and Openness (38th).But we are dominated by our conscientiousness. Our cultural profile, as outlined by researchers, shows that we are more likely than most states to place importance on religion and attend church. We are less inclined to entertain and socialize with friends.Computer scientists and mathematicians are more likely to flourish in Kansas than artists and entertainers.Oddly, we exercise at home a lot, but we have a low life expectancy, researchers claim.The study was led by Jason Rentfrow, a lecturer in social and political sciences at Cambridge. He is from Louisiana, a state that is friendly but highly stressed.Rentfrow believes that states and even countries can be ascribed a unique identity through the combination of the five traits.In an e-mail from Cambridge, Rentfrow indicated that Kansans are more than dour drones mindful only of structure and rules.Kansas’ complete profile, he wrote, shows that Kansans are friendly, trusting and kind.“It’s probably a place where people feel connected with their communities and are able to rely on family and friends,” he wrote. “The low Neuroticism score suggests that people are fairly relaxed, calm, and easygoing. And the low Openness scores suggest that people value tradition, are pragmatic and down-to-earth.”Researchers used results from more than half a million online surveys in a six-year period to create a personality map of the country. They found different types of people tend to cluster together geographically. The personality traits influence social phenomena in those regions such as crime, employment, health and values, they said.The researchers identify a “stress belt” that divides the more anxious and uptight East from the laid-back West.The Midwest has a strong conscientiousness streak, they found, while the Northeast is high in neuroticism and creativity.There may be something to all this.“We are grounded people because of the environment we live in,” said Jim Gray, a sixth-generation Kansan and rancher in Ellsworth and Rice County. “Even if you are living in the middle of Wichita, you become dependent on your surroundings — the sky, the earth, the weather. We pay attention to weather on a daily basis.“The changes in life aren’t shocking to us because we deal with them daily. It instills in us to take life as it comes.”Researchers argue that the strongest trait within a given population becomes self-reinforcing by influencing the region’s life and culture.Our senses of duty, responsibility and self-discipline are practically a state tradition.“The early pioneers depended on each family member,” said Sally Luallen, a native Kansan. “They passed that on to each generation. We grew up with family values. We learned to work with gratitude.”Luallen is a longtime supporter of Kansas arts and culture. She said the state nurtures creativity. Not every Kansan may consider themselves an artist, she said, but many support Kansas museums, theater groups and other forms of art.“We would not have as many museums if Kansas people were not so conscientious,” Luallen said.Ted Bates, a Boeing engineer who has lived in Wichita for 30 years after moving from Arizona, also sees our primary trait from a historical perspective.It takes people with a certain mind set to stay in Kansas after moving here, he said. And that mind set goes back all the way to when Kansas was founded.Early Kansans were sometimes lightening rods for the rest of the nation, advocating women’s rights, African-American freedoms and political sovereignty, he said.But during the 20th century, people flocked to Wichita seeking jobs at the aircraft companies, which sought workers who were integrators rather than originators.“If you wanted widgets you went to the east or the west coast,” he said. “But it was Kansans who integrated systems together. We would take things and put them together.”———Information from: The Wichita Eagle, http://www.kansas.com