2013.10.30 New Mexico in my future?


I need to get out of this state. Crossing the line into Ohio won't do, either. I need to get to New Mexico. I'm sure of it now.

I don't know what it is about New Mexico other than that silly states quiz that Time magazine listed on its website recently (America's Mood Map: Interactive Guide to the United States of Attitude). I don't know how silly it really is, but it seems a little ridiculous to label an entire state as outward going, for example, when the adjoining state is entirely different. But then I think about crossing the line into Ohio...they really do think differently down there.

Jason Rentfrow, an American now living in England, led a research team that aimed to discover regional differences in personality, sort of fracturing the myth of the "united" states. As Time points out, there are all kinds of differences in regard to income, education, religion, etc., and there's also the difference in temperament.

The test seems silly because temperament can differ remarkably between you and your next door neighbor, but apparently the population of a state overall has some generally shared tendencies.

A huge swath of the Midwest—including Michigan and working its way down to Florida where the population must be teeming with former Midwesterners—is colored in various shades of orange which stands for Friendly and Conventional. There are four degrees of orange, led by the darkest shown in Iowa and Nebraska. Michigan is watered down to the third level. 

But drive south a few feet into Ohio and you're in a blue state: Temperamental and Uninhibited. I never thought of Ohioans as uninhibited, but maybe I need to get to know them better. Ohio is the most diluted of the three shades of blue. Nothing like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Texas is also the same shade as Ohio.

Virginia and North Carolina show middle and weak green: Relaxed and Creative. You have to travel west for the remaining green states, from New Mexico angling up to Washington. New Mexico is the middle shade of green. Arizona, California and Oregon are the epicenters of Relaxed and Creative. Maybe I should have rated myself a little more careless and disorganized.

West Virginia came through as the most neurotic state and Utah was the least. Good old Utah, it also was rated the most agreeable place in the nation. The extroverts are in Wisconsin and their opposites live in Vermont. 

In North Dakota, they love the predictable and the familiar, finishing last in openness. You need to move to Washington, D.C., to live among the most open people. It doesn't mean they agree on anything, but they at least tolerate a lot of different ideas.

My wife sent the quiz around to family members and we're splitting up. Ben was pegged for Georgia and Maddie got North Carolina, although she did protest the generalizations of the quiz questions. Ben's wife, Sarah, also got North Carolina while Maddie's—what we'll call her boyfriend, Adam—was designated as a Georgian. 

Rosanna was aligned with Utah, which I'm pleased to note, borders on New Mexico. Her husband, Taylor, got Florida. Several of Rozee's friends took the quiz when she posted it on Facebook and by far the state for them was Georgia.

Colleen, who started it off, was matched with Colorado. This disappointed her since so much of her family was coming through with southern states. She took it again and came up with her birthplace, the much different temperament of the District of Columbia. She must have been fibbing one of those two times. Since then she's come up with a third result, California, as she continues the search for her true self.

I, too, decided to re-test myself. I took a little more time to consider the choices and I think I made some variations from the first round, but it didn't matter, the result was the same: New Mexico. I think I need to check it out sometime. Sometime in the winter would be good.

The author of the Time story, Jeffrey Kluger, says we're not really a mix of warring tribes, but instead a messy mix of geography, just what the Founding Fathers intended.