Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Mar 15th 2008 at 9:46am UTC

The Personality Map


These maps from Who’s Your City? show the geographic distribution of personality types. Developed by my MPI colleague Kevin Stolarick, they are based on data on hundreds of thousands of people compiled by psychologists Jason Rentfrow at Cambridge University and Sam Gosling at the University of Texas. Open-to-experience people appear to be the most mobile and distributed – look at the clusters around NY and the east coast corridor, southern Florida, Austin, L.A., and the Bay Area and Seattle. They are also the personality type most likely to be creative, innovative ,and entrepreneurial. My fuller explanation is here.

18 Responses to “The Personality Map”

  1. Nathan Says:

    Dr. Florida,

    I read “Who’s Your City” last week and enjoyed it a great deal. I wanted to share something I call the “Magazine Rack Test” that I conduct when looking at a location. Very simply, stores tend to stock periodicals that reflect the demand and therefore interests of the community. If I see a rack overwhelming stocked with gossip and hunting magazines and nothing more substantial than the USA Today, I respectfully decide that location is not a fit for me. If they have a nice selection of periodicals that touch on a diverse range of economic, social, and political views (as well as a nice range of recreational/hobby-related publications), it hints that the community has people with those interests. I’ve found this to be true in communities/neighborhoods of all persuasions.

    Best of luck with your book rollout.

    Nathan, Pittsburgh, PA.

  2. RF Says:

    Nathan – I love it! R

  3. Michael R. Bernstein Says:

    Richard, I am reading ‘Who’s your City’ this week. Interesting stuff.

    Regarding this chart, I’m a little surprised that you don’t have one for introverts. Do they not self-sort as well (if only by moving away from the extroverts)?

  4. RF Says:

    MB – Psychologists measure personality on five dimensions, noted above: agreeable, conscientious, neurotic, open-to-experience and extrovert. As I understand it, introvert is the other end of the extrovert scale. I will check with Jason Renftrow about data on introverts. Creative people, psychological studies indicate, tend to be high on open-to-experience, aloof, disagreeable and introverted.

  5. Stephen Downes Says:

    Too bad the world ends at the U.S. border.

    How about including some other countries in these things?

  6. RF Says:

    Stephen – Good point. That’s where some of these data were collected for. One problem is there are lots and lots of US universities and researchers collecting data. The real problem is that there exist no comparable data on most items for various countries. Creating that data is a key goal of our Institute. The mega-region data for the entire world, which is presented in the book, is one key start.

    That said, there is both a Canadian edition and a world edition coming by late summer or early fall.

    So, stay tuned. R

  7. Michelle Cottle Says:

    How about creating a highly detailed questionnaire that a reader could take helping refine their best location? I do plan to work the chapter you included with questions helping me to narrow down and highlight my preferences, but this would be a terrific addition to that.

  8. RF Says:

    Michelle – I am thinking about trying to build a wiki-like site to have folks like you actually help do this. Some of this is in the chapter. Have you tried out the place finder at Do send your suggestions. R

  9. Jason Rentfrow Says:

    That’s a very interesting idea, Nathan. In fact, Wilbur Zelinsky, a geographer interested geographic clustering of preferences, looked at magazine subscriptions across the US and found several interesting patterns. For example, subscriptions to “sophisticated” magazines (e.g., “Esquire” and “Art News”) were highest in the Mid-Atlantic, Illinois, and California, whereas subscriptions to “traditional” magazines (e.g., “Home & Garden”, “Guns & Ammo” and “Shooting Times”) were highest in the Southern states.

    Here’s the reference:
    Zelinsky, W. (1974). Selfward bound? Personal preference patterns and the changing map of American society. Economic Geography, 50, 144-179.


  10. Michael R. Bernstein Says:

    Richard, thanks for the response.

    “As I understand it, introvert is the other end of the extrovert scale. I will check with Jason Renftrow about data on introverts.”

    I would guess that the underlying data would show both ends of the scale, but the charts as currently constituted only seem to show one end. There could be concentrations at the other end of the scale *anywhere* within the blank areas.

    “Creative people, psychological studies indicate, tend to be high on open-to-experience, aloof, disagreeable and introverted.”

    Heh. If the underlying data could be made available, heat maps of various combinations would be pretty interesting.

  11. Zoe B Says:

    I just got a call from the Gallup Poll with a questionnaire about our local county-level quality of life. The questionnaire design suggested to me that the author(s) had read Who’s Your City (or had otherwise tapped into the same zeitgeist). Might be worth keeping an ear out for the results, especially if this was a national effort.

  12. RF Says:

    Zoe – The key findings on happiness and place are from a joint effort with Gallup. It may well be a similar questionnaire. R

  13. RF Says:

    Michael -We are working on just that! Thank you. R

  14. R. A. Student Says:

    Very interesting maps. I recently wrote a paper on the existence of positive psychological environments and their regional distribution and the positive psychological index that i created appears to correspond to higher values of your: open to experience, aggreableness, extroverted and conscientious. This is quite interesting. What is the spatial aggregation of these data?

  15. Juan Gonzalez Says:

    People seeking a place where they can express themselves is almost a perfect definition for the global citizen that will move anywhere around the world to find the region that better defines the core values that he/she hold true and treasure the most. This realization provides a very important argument in favor of why cities that have been welcoming to generations of migrants are now among the most important hubs for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. As I have stated in previous posts, one of the most essential tools of the person starting a journey to a new place is a complete willingness to experience and accept a new culture without hesitation. This very same personality treat is probably, according to this research, why these same cities have evolved economies that are a model for a truly global city. Cosmopolitanism and its quest for understanding other cultures may be the key that triggers the desire to relocate to a newly discovered region of the world, but it is that same global knowledge that gives the region an important advantage as more connections with the rest of the world are created with every new individual that arrives. So, while it may be psychological characteristics what drives the clustering shown above, I believe it is the global connections that these people have what fosters a prosperous economy.

  16. Jason Rentfrow Says:


    You’re right, Introversion is the other end of the Extraversion construct. People low in Extraversion are what we would describe as Introverted. You’re also right that the heat maps only show those areas that are “high” on each of the personality dimensions. As Rich said, we’re currently working on ways to plot the low ends of the dimensions as well as city-level maps. Stay tuned…

  17. Michael R. Bernstein Says:

    Jason, a Tufte-esque color-coding suggests itself, with the low end mapped to increasingly dark shades of blue, and the ‘average’ areas remaining white.

    This would allow places (if there are any) that are high in both introverts and extroverts (but few ‘average’ folks) to end up shaded purple.

  18. Mats Stafseng Einarsen Says:

    This is the most fascinating thing I have seen in quite some time. I’m currently planning/hoping to do a individual differences approach to culture shock as a part of my post-graduate degree in psychology, and these maps just opened up a whole new avenue of ideas!

    Would you regard it as an infringement on your idea if I did something similar to a world map?