The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 26, 2013

We Americans are united by our differences


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — How do you see yourself?

Anyone who said, “In a mirror,” go to your room.

What is your self-image? How would you characterize your own personality?

Are you open, conscientious, extroverted or agreeable? How about neurotic?

According to a study conducted by a group of researchers at Cambridge University in England and reported by Time magazine, Oklahomans are pretty middle of the road when it comes to personality traits.

The team, led by psychologist and American expatriate Jason Rentfrow, used personality test data from more than a million people in the lower 48 states (not enough people from Hawaii and Alaska responded to the survey to be included) to indentify three distinct personality regions in the United States.

States are divided into those that are friendly and conventional, relaxed and creative, and temperamental and uninhibited.

Not surprisingly, the temperamental and uninhibited states are largely located in the northeast, the relaxed and creative ones are in the west and the friendly and conventional ones are located in the middle of the country and the southeast.

There are exceptions. Virginia and North Carolina were found to fall in the relaxed and creative category, while Texans were judged to be temperamental and uninhibited.

 Oklahomans are not among the most open people in the country, according to the study. Our state was given a score of 42.2 on openness, ranking us 40th out of 49 (including the District of Columbia).

Likewise, those of us in the Sooner State are not terribly extroverted. Oklahoma’s score of 39.7 ranks us 42nd on that chart.

The research indicates we are a conscientious lot. Oklahoma ranked 17th on that scale with a score of 54.7.

At the same time, Oklahoma is an agreeable place to be. We are 17th on that list as well, scoring 54.3.

Oklahomans are, however, neurotic, according to the research. Our state was also 17th on that scale, scoring 52.1. It must be all the tornadoes and earthquakes.

The most open place in the country was found to be Washington, D.C., but the residents of our nation’s capital also were found to be the least agreeable in the nation. That makes sense. Given the political dysfunction inside the Beltway, it is clear the folks in the district can’t agree about anything. In fact, they are openly disagreeable. At the other end of the spectrum, Utah was found to be the most agreeable place in the country, while the least open state was North Dakota.

The most extroverted people in the nation? Those lovable cheeseheads of Wisconsin.

The most introverted state is Vermont. It must be all the snow, or maybe it’s the maple syrup.

South Carolina gets the prize for most conscientious state, while the independent-minded folks from Maine are last in that category.

Oddly, neither California nor New York were judged the most neurotic state. Instead, that distinction fell to West Virginia.

Maybe it’s because West Virginia was the first state to enact a state sales tax, which went into effect July 1, 1921.

Utah tops the list again as the least neurotic state in the nation.

 All of which means what?

Not much, really, though it makes for an interesting read. Every state is an amalgam of personalities, a gumbo of extroverts and introverts, the open and the guarded, the agreeable and the grouchy, the neurotic and the marginally less so.

Red state or blue, cat or dog lovers, lovers of hot dogs or hamburgers, fans of football or baseball, aficionados of country or classical, we are one people with 313.9 million separate personalities, give or take a few.

In this country we are fiercely proud of our individualism, our uniqueness, our quirks. We are united, in fact, by our differences.

Try to find two snowflakes that are totally alike, just try. That would be easier, however, to find two Americans who are identical in every way.

What a boring world it would be if we were all alike. Personally, I think one me is quite enough, thank you.



Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.