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The geography of personality

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Julain Oldmeadow.

Volumes of research show that people in different geographic regions differ psychologically. Most of that work converges on the conclusion that there are geographic differences in personality and values, but little attention has been paid to developing an integrative account of how those differences emerge, persist, and become expressed at the geographic level. Drawing from research in psychology and other social sciences, I present a theoretical account of the mechanisms through which geographic variation in psychological characteristics emerge and persist within regions, and propose a model for conceptualizing the processes through which such characteristics become expressed in geographic social indicators. Hypotheses derived from the model were tested using personality data from over a half-million U.S. residents. Results provide preliminary support for the model, revealing clear patterns of regional variation across the U.S. and strong relationships between state-level personality and geographic indicators of crime, social capital, religiosity, political values, employment, and health. Overall, this work highlights the potential insights generated by including macro-level perspectives within psychology and suggests new routes to bridging theory and research across disciplines in the social sciences.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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