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From irritable Londoners to rebellious Northerners, take a look at Britain's regional personality map

personality.jpg

Are you a Londoner? We hate to break it to you, but you're probably uncooperative, quarrelsome and irritable. 

If you're from Scotland, on the other hand, you're likely to be friendly, trusting and kind.

And if you happen to hail from Lincolnshire, you might be a tad on the neurotic side.

That's according to scientists who've created a new psychological map of Britain, based on regional personality traits.

Cambridge University researchers worked with the BBC Lab UK project to survey 400,000 people across the 380 local authority areas of England, Wales and Scotland over a period of two years.

In a study titled The Big Personality Test, they used online multiple choice questions to quiz participants, around two-thirds of whom were female, about their personalities, relationships and lifestyles.

The results published in the journal PLOS ONE this week mapped out five major traits - extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness (all common measures in scientific studies of personality).


The five personality traits

Personality

Openness - To what extent you are receptive to novel ideas, creative experiences and different values

Openness appeared mainly in metropolitan areas, with London, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow, but also in parts of Wales, indicating that a disproportion number of residents of these areas were creative, unconventional, and curious.

Conscientiousness - To what extent you are organised and exhibit self-control

The most conscientious regions were in Southern England, pockets of the Midlands, and the Scottish Highlands, suggesting that large proportions of residents of these areas were self-disciplined, cautious, and compliant. 

Extroversion - To what extent you are inclined to experience positive emotions and how attracted you are to social, stimulating experiences

High levels of extraversion were concentrated in London as well as Manchester and pockets of the South and South East of England, Yorkshire and Scotland. 

Agreeableness - To what extent you are concerned about the feelings of others and how easily you form bonds with people

The most agreeable regions were to be found throughout Scotland, as well as in the North, South West and East of England, suggesting that disproportionate numbers of residents of these areas were friendly, trusting, and kind. 

Neuroticism - To what extent you react to perceived threats and stressful situations

People were more likely to be emotionally stable in the South West and much of Southern England, as well as across most of Scotland, suggesting that residents of these areas tend to be calm, relaxed, and happy.

(Source: BBC and phys.org)


The personality map

For each personality trait, the areas in blue are comparatively low and the areas in red are comparatively high:

maps

So what did the results show? Here are a few of the more intriguing findings.

The Big Personality Test; the snapshot headlines

Londoners; quarrelsome and irritable?

Londoners - quarrelsome and irritable?

People in the East of England were "conscientious, agreeable but less open"

People in parts of the North of England showed significantly lower levels of conscientiousness - suggesting there were more "rebellious and indifferent"

Londoners were found to be the least welcoming, not very conscientious and more likely to be "uncooperative, quarrelsome and irritable", but also open and energetic

People from Scotland ranked very highly for agreeableness, and were "friendly, trusting and kind"

People in a number of districts throughout Wales and the Midlands suffered "significantly low levels of emotional stability" and "significantly high levels of neuroticism", suggesting they were "comparatively anxious, depressed, and temperamental"

The North, South West and East of England were found to be very agreeable, contrasting with London and the East of England who were more temperamental


Rather helpfully, the BBC has created an interactive guide, which you can use to find out whereabouts in Britain you'd be happiest - based on your own personality. Try it out here

Where in Britain would you be happiest?

Where in Britain would you be happiest?

Obviously, the results have broader implications. Personality traits are linked to specific regions, which in turn are influenced by variables such as income, education, employment opportunities and crime levels. 

For example, openness was positively related to cosmopolitan, economically prosperous, and liberal people, with a prevalence of high-status professionals, foreign-born residents and same-sex couples.

Regions with large proportions of people scoring low in emotional stability had more residents who were working class and physically unhealthy. Conscientiousness individuals were more likely to be married, older and on a higher income, with lower rates of deaths from cancer and heart disease.

"Our research shows there is also a psychological aspect to these broader geographical patterns," says Dr Jason Rentfrow from the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge.

"Understanding how personality traits differ by region is more than just a bit of fun. Geographical differences are associated with a range of economic, social and health outcomes, and hence how important resources are allocated.

"Although participants in an online test are self-selecting, the demographic characteristics are representative of the British population, so we can develop an accurate snapshot of the psychology of the nation."

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: ThinkStock

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