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Are You and Your Town a Good Match?

Study: A City's Personality Can Affect Your Self-Esteem

If you’re looking for your ideal place to live, you might want to read the results of a study by Assistant Professor Wiebke Bleidorn on the personalities of cities across the country.

Using data from an online survey of 543,934 people, Bleidorn and colleagues compared the personality traits of 860 U.S. cities, based on the prevailing “Big Five” traits of their inhabitants — emotional stability, extraversion, openness to new experiences, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

The researchers also rated the cities for how religious their residents considered themselves.

They found that the better the fit between a person and city on three of the personality traits — openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness — as well as for religiosity, the better it was for an individual’s self-esteem.

A person’s own emotional stability and extraversion have far greater effects on self-esteem than their town’s personality traits do.

But Bleidorn told BBC Future that different cities really do attract certain kinds of people. “People may move to a city because they feel that it suits their personality best,” she said.

Here are some cities with the highest and lowest scores for each trait:

Emotional stability

High: Orem, Utah

Low: Brooklyn, New York


High: Whitewater, Wisconsin

Low: Portland, Oregon


High: Santa Monica, California

Low: Tuscaloosa, Alabama


High: Jackson, Tennessee

Low: Beverly Hills, California


High: Fayetteville, North Carolina

Low: Amherst, Massachusetts

Learn More

Check out more examples in illustrations by BBC Future