Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Psychological and Geographic Typography

The results of an ambitious study were published two weeks ago.  It attempts to scientifically “map the psychological topography of the United States.”

I detect from the results that any creativity and innovation with which I am often credited may be the result of always living in states deemed in the analysis to be “relaxed and creative,” including California, Idaho (my native state,) North Carolina, Utah and Washington.

My near decade in Alaska is unaccounted because the analysis deals only with the “lower 48.”

An extroverted friend of mine jumped to the conclusion that North Carolina is extroverted but this state falls in a cluster identified by low extroversion, low agreeableness, average conscientiousness, very low neuroticism and very high openness.

From my experience here over almost 25 years, the description of North Carolina fits, but the General Assembly has been dominated by some outliers for the last three years, especially when it comes to neuroticism (smile.)

Read the study which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  It is far more enlightening than the red state-blue state typology, yet it includes political as well as economic, social and health correlations.

By the way, North Carolina is 51% extroverted like my friend and obviously half introverted.  Before retirement, I tested an “x” or right on the line between the two or about the state median.  In retirement, my truer tendency to introversion is apparent.

Of the other states in which I lived, Idaho and Washington were the most introverted in the study at nearly 60% and 70% respectively while Utah was the most extroverted at nearly 56%.  California, like North Carolina, was right on the line.

One way the difference is often explained is that both types are outgoing enough but extroverts draw energy from others while introverts are drained during the process of too much interaction and need quiet time to recharge.

I participated in a Durham Rotary Club adaptation of a progressive dinner event last weekend.  I felt drained by the large reception at stage one but rejuvenated by the smaller group of 8 in the middle which confirmed, indeed, that I am more introverted than extroverted in retirement.

If there are any vampires out on Halloween this week, it is as likely they are energy vampires as the blood sucking kind.

Introverted does not mean less open.  On that scale, Washington, which was the most introverted of the states in which I have lived scored second highest at 57% after California at 65%.

Idaho and Utah scored in the 45% and 48% on openness although the latter was far more extroverted.  I suspect Alaska would score off the charts on openness if measured.

My experience in less open states is that you have to incubate after arrival before being allowed to fully engage.  In Alaska, if you come up with a new idea the day you arrive there, you are immediately put in charge of the committee to make it happen.

That’s what I call openness.

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