A little while ago, I looked at a study on the geography of personality by Peter J. Rentfrow, Samuel D. Gosling and Jeff Potter. That work looked at the geographic distribution among the 50 states of the prevalence of the "big five" personality traits: extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousnness, and openness. Well, Richard Florida has maps that present similar data; except that these ignore state boundaries, which gives a clearer and more fine-grained sense of the actual distribution of those traits; and better yet, these maps include Canada. So here are the maps of the geography of personality for the US and Canada. (Note: Florida cites, as the source for these maps, Jason Rentfrow and Kevin Stolarick, and the data represented in these maps seem to show some slightly different patterns than the other paper, which I'll refer to as the Rentfrow et al. paper, even though both of these, technically, are Rentfrow et al. papers (do you think Peter and Jason are related?).)
According to Rentfrow, et al., extroversion is generally associated with "sociability, energy, and health," and extroverted people tend to socialize more, but also tend to be more indiscriminate in their associations; they don't necessarily have more close friends. The big hubs for extroversion seem to be centered around Chicago, Atlanta, and Florida, with Bos-Ny-Wash and California being the least extroverted regions. Canada is more uniform, though Ontarians seem to be a bit more extroverted than Albertans.
Agreeableness "reflects warmth, compassion, cooperativeness, and friendliness." Rentfrow et al. found that high levels of agreeableness in states correlated with social involvement and religiosity. It was also positively correlated with spending time with friends and having guests over, but negatively with going to bars and joining clubs. Again, Atlanta seems to be a major hub of agreeableness, and it is generally prevalent throughout the South; and again Bos-Ny-Wash and Southern California score low. Greater Toronto and Alberta score slightly lower as well, and Vancouver scores slightly higher.
Neuroticism is characterized by "anxiety, stress, impulsivity, and emotional instability and is related to antisocial behavior, poor coping, and poor health." Unsurprisingly, the Rentfrow et al. study found that highly neurotic states had lower rates of exercise, higher rates of disease, and a shorter life expectancy. In these states, people are less likely to join clubs and spend time with friends. Again, the Northeast represents one of the ends of the spectrum for the distribution of this trait; but in this case it's focused very particularly around the New York City area. There's a secondary neurotic hub around Ohio; the South and West are generally un-neurotic, as is Canada - esepecially Vancouver.
Conscientiousness at the individual level "reflects dutifulness, responsibility, and self-discipline [and] it is positively associated with religiosity" and health-promoting behavior. The South has high levels of conscientiousness; the Northeast, not so much. Southern Ontario and the big cities of California also seem to have lower levels of conscientiousness.
Openness "reflects curiosity, intellect, and creativity at the individual level." Rentfrow et al. found that highly open states had high levels of liberal values, and a disproportionate number of people in the "artistic and investigative professions". People in these areas are more tolerant of homosexuality, more likely to support legalization of marijuana, and more likely to be pro-choice. However, more open states tend to have lower rates of social involvement. and are considerably less religious. "Open" people are concentrated around New York City and the cities of the West Coast from Vancouver to San Diego. The South, Midwest, and southern Ontario are less open.
Taking these maps as a whole, what's most remarkable to me is the extent to which the story of the geography of personality in North America is a story about the difference between New York City and Atlanta. Just look at those maps: in the case of every one of the big five personality traits, both of those cities represent one end of the spectrum of the distribution of that trait; and in every case, they represent opposite ends of that spectrum. In other words, both areas are outliers for every trait, and both areas are outliers in opposite directions for every trait. Other parts of North America, like Canada and the interior West, are either generally near the middle of the spectrum for most traits; or, like the Midwest, they share patterns with the Atlanta-centered South or the NYC-centered Northeast depending on the trait. But in every single case, Atlanta and New York City are diametrically opposed to each other. It's fascinating.