2008.05.14 Feeling neurotic? It's OK

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The long-term forecast for this region calls for conscientious behavior with a touch of neuroticism.

What? Has the idiot finished with Lyons and now he’s going after all of us? That seems to be the case. I’m obviously a man with too much information and an inability to keep quiet.

My new information was collected by a couple of researchers who spun regional personality data into a set of five maps of the USA.

Why just five maps? Because classic psychology studies focus on five broad personality traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.

It turns out there are clusters of like-minded individuals and their presence can be shown on a map.

So how are those people over in Lyons...just joking. We’re all in this together. Our shared traits tend to cover a wide swath of territory. Let’s take a close look at what’s become known as our psychogeography.

What about Agreeableness? No, that’s not us. There’s a wide river of agreeable people flowing out of Minnesota and following the Mississippi River down to the Gulf. Interesting, don’t you think? Must be some connection. In the south it spreads out wide and nearly the entire state of Georgia is the hotbed of agreeable people.

These people tend to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic. Social harmony, an optimistic view of human nature.

We’re not characterized by an Openness to Experience, either, but that map is rather empty. Those people are clustered in southern Florida, Austin, Los Angeles and California’s Bay Area, Seattle and New York City.

The Openness people appreciate art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity and a variety of experience. Hmmm, is this why I sometimes feel out of place in Morenci?

Everyone has his or her unique mixture of traits. An Open person could also possess a blend of Agreeableness: the unconventional views could be tempered by conforming actions. That’s safe for a small town.

So what are we like around here? Extroverted? Energy, positive emotions, seeking stimulation—a lot of interaction with the external world.

There’s something peculiar with this map. Every personality type has to fade off somewhere and the clusters of Extroverts tapers off right around here.

A glance at the map shows density around Chicago and spreading up toward Madison. Less intense is an enormous area starting up in Minnesota and heading down through Missouri to the Gulf. Central Florida is crawling with Extroverts.

The map shows the spread moving back north right up into Michigan except for this hole which is most of Ohio. A close-up view shows the band of Extroverts skirting around Fulton and Lenawee counties.

That’s because we don’t really like drawing attention to ourselves. We’re quiet around strangers and we really don’t have a lot to say.

There are only two of the Big Five remaining. Surely we must have some common properties.

We do. We’re Conscientious and it’s a Michigan thing. A good share of the state has this personality type, but the map shows this characteristic mostly in the southeast U.S., with a finger off toward eastern Nebraska plus widespread coverage in New Mexico and Arizona.

What does this say about us? We show self-discipline and aim for achievement. We plan rather than act spontaneously. We get our chores done. We’re boring?

This leaves number five: Neuroticism. We’re far from the hotbed of the East Coast, but the second-strongest collection of neurotics is clustered in southern Ohio, from Columbus down to Cincinnati, spilling over into northern Kentucky and moving northeast into western Pennsylvania. The bottom tier of Michigan counties also favors the unstable types.

We neurotics have a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily—anger, depression, anxiety. We see ordinary situations as threatening and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult.

By now, I expect that you have taken pieces of the Big Five and created your own mental puzzle to explain yourself.

And for those of you readers who were born here but no longer live in the area, now you know why you left. You just had to go off and join your own people.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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