What’s your state’s rep?

Today’s guest post is by Peppercommmer Paul Merchan

reputation-managementWe’ve heard it a million times over – New Yorkers are rude, Californians are laid back, and the mountain of stereotypes never seems to end. Is there any truth to it all? Any relationship whatsoever between where you live and what your personality is like? How about where you live and what opportunities you have? And can that be a bad look for the state/city you live in? Talk about a high “state” in reputation!

Measure of America and Opportunity Nation released a study this week that among other things, showed that just under six million young adults between 16 and 24 years old are neither working nor in school (Millennial-itis, anyone?). Some have postulated that this has nothing to do with wanting to do something with their lives, but rather the lack of opportunities where they live.

For example, the study found that Vermont is the best place to live for safe communities, and opportunities in economy and education, followed by Minnesota and North Dakota (they also happen to be very cold… any connection there?). My home state of New York ranked 20th, not bad I guess in the grand scheme of things. The Opportunity Index scored 16 factors of opportunity in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, even narrowing down its findings by county. The website says its aim is to give “policymakers and leaders a useful tool to identify areas for improvement and to gauge progress over time.”

While we patiently wait for our elected representatives to enact legislation to improve our lives, these findings can either lend credence to existing stereotypes or dispel them. For example, Oakland, Calif. has been notoriously linked to crime and poverty. A recent ESPN article noted that African-American males in high school have been murdered at the same rate as those who graduate with enough credits to get into a state university. The Opportunity Index, however, notes that Oakland’s Alameda County has a high school graduation rate above the state and national average. I should note that there are some pretty nice areas of Alameda County as well. On the other hand, my home borough of Brooklyn, NY posted a 64 percent high school graduation rate, well below state and national averages. Yes, Brooklyn’s reputation precedes itself (one of my buddies from out West once quipped, “How did you make it out of there alive?”).

So if your state has a bad rep for providing opportunities, how about a sense of humor? A separate study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology surveyed over a million people in the U.S. on their personalities. The result was a personality index by state that showed where the most neurotic people live (West Virginia), the most open place (Washington, D.C.) and many more categories. The friendliest states? Nebraska and Iowa. New York ranked in the “temperamental & uninhibited” category (Hey! I’m walking here!). I took a self-test and was told I belong in Washington, D.C. I guess I am an open kind of guy. Go figure!

So what’s your states rep? Bad boy or momma’s boy? And do these kinds of studies reinforce that notion? Will people ever stop thinking that Brooklyn is full of crime and that people in the Midwest are just the nicest people on earth?

6 thoughts on “What’s your state’s rep?

  1. I like that Kentucky appears, according to the color map, to be the only state that’s basically neutral. By the way, Steve, they tried to send me to Georgia, too.

    • Sam, that’s because Kentucky was ranked the 5th most neurotic state, but towards the bottom in openness and agreeableness. But knowing you, I would have to disagree with the findings!

  2. Many Monmouth County, NJ, residents will tell you they began life in Brooklyn, moved to Staten Island after getting married and eventually settled down in our neck of the woods when they were able to afford to do so. Ironically, most wouldn’t be able to afford to move back to the pricier parts of Brooklyn.

  3. New Jersey is indeed a beautiful state with a bad rep, but it far outdates Snooki! We’re talking about the reputation of pollution and crime that still permeates the discussion today. Very interesting that your BENNYs acronym singles out Brooklyn and then New York. Wonder what that means for Brooklyn’s rep vis-a-vis Jersey, i.e., who would win in a death match?

  4. I would LOVE to rebrand New Jersey. Every time I tell people that’s where I’m from, I get the “ew…really..?” look. Listen guys. New Jersey is actually really nice. Our beaches (when not over-populated with BENNYs) are amazing. (BENNYs: people who come from Brooklyn, Elizabeth, Newark and New York during the summer and invade our beaches and bars.) We’re super close to NYC, but also far enough away that we have amazingly clean air. The only thing wrong with New Jersey, in my humble opinion, is that MTV created a show that portrays the drinking habits of BENNYs. Yeah, we have corruption. And yes, we have the mob. blah blah blah. Every state has issues! Moral of my story? NJ is really cool, and actually does have very nice gardens.