Do you really belong in Michigan? Take this test to find out

Oct 23, 2013

Researchers studied certain psychological traits across the country and found that Michiganders are fairly agreeable and extroverted (we rank 16th) and somewhat neurotic (we rank 27th).

All of this is according to a study called "Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economical, Social, and Health Correlates," published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Time Magazine posted the test so anyone can see where they belong based on their personality.

The researchers say this study could challenge how we think about our country (by voting patterns, cultural stereotypes, and economic indicators) and regroup Americans based on their psychological tendencies.

How the study worked

Led by Dr. Jason Rentfrow of Cambridge University, researchers asked questions that they say haven't really been explored. They asked, "Are there distinct psychological regions in the United States?" And, if there are, what would a map of them all look like?

The study evaluated states' personalities using five factors: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Those criterion conveniently create the term OCEAN.

The scores for each state represents the average score of residents who participated in the study. So, for example, Michigan has a score of 43.4 in Openness. That means that the 59,221 Michigan residents who participated in the study had an average score of 43.4.

Data was collected over a 12-year period. When researchers compared the participants to Census data, they say the study's demographics were well-matched to the country's population.

What they found

From the data the researchers collected, they created three psychological regions. Each region was characterized by a personality "cluster." 

This is a screenshot of the psychological regions that Rentfrow and his team created.
This is a screenshot of the psychological regions that Rentfrow and his team created.
Credit Dr. Rentfrow et al. / Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

As you can see, in general people in the Midwest are friendly and conventional, the East Coast is temperamental and uninhibited, and the West Coast is relaxed and creative.

Here's the interesting part. According to the guys who did the study, the geographic shift of psychological attributes has a lot to do with migration. Here's what they said when they analyzed the West Coast:

It is likely that selective migration has also played a crucial role in the formation of this region. Indeed, the West was the last region settled in the United States, as migrants traveled from New England and the Midwest, through the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains along the Oregon Trail. The trek itself was dangerous and the living conditions were poor, so only certain types of people would have chosen to endure such a difficult move...

To explore the possibility that frontier settlement might have contributed to the emergence of this psychological region, we examined the association between the Relaxed & Creative profile and the year in which states were founded as an index of frontier settlement and obtained some support for this hypothesis.

Take the test and see what you think.

Despite all the extensive research, I was told I should live in Georgia, so I'm still skeptical. 

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom