Silicon Valley's economy is sliding into the doldrums, with unemployment now topping 6.6 percent, but it's not the only place to live.
In fact, as researchers recently uncovered and which the Wall Street Journal reports, there are lots of other great places in the United States to live, places with people who are equally open to new ideas, while being much more extroverted, conscientious, and agreeable, and far less neurotic (their words, not mine).
As published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, researchers combed through more than 600,000 personality questionnaires and discovered that certain states attract or shape concentrations of similar personalities. Intriguingly, this may affect the types of industries and health care problems that arise in certain states:
Even after controlling for variables such as race, income, and education levels, a state's dominant personality turns out to be strongly linked to certain outcomes. Amiable states, like Minnesota, tend to be lower in crime. Dutiful states--an eclectic bunch that includes New Mexico, North Carolina, and Utah-- produce a disproportionate share of mathematicians. States that rank high in openness to new ideas are quite creative, as measured by per-capita patent production. But they're also high-crime and a bit aloof. Apparently, Californians don't much like socializing, the research suggests.
As for high-anxiety states, that group includes not just Type A New York and New Jersey, but also states stressed by poverty, such as West Virginia and Mississippi. As a group, these neurotic states tend to have higher rates of heart disease and lower life expectancy.
Which states rank highest? That, of course, depends on what you're seeking. As shown in the Wall Street Journal's interactive maps, if you want extroverts go to Utah, Florida, or a few other states. Agreeable neighbors and co-workers? Try Utah, North Carolina, and eight other options. Looking for a conscientious employee? New Mexico tops that list, followed by North Carolina, Georgia, and Utah.
Hoping to avoid neurotic people? Better steer clear of West Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York.
I'm a bit biased toward Utah, where I live, what with Utah hosting the best snow on the planet, as recently noted in Ski Magazine. But there are plenty of other great places to live. Silicon Valley may be the center of the technology universe, but but you've got other, potentially better options. Really.