Does your hometown dictate who you are?

Kyle Parikh ’18, Business and Ad/Circulation Manager

Where one lives may be the biggest influence on the way that he or she thinks. People spend their first years in complete awe and curiosity of the world around them. A newborn baby is a blank canvas; the culture of the environment around them is the painter. Each new painter leaves their own unique mark. The constant noise caused by the hustle and bustle of a city environment paints in one style, while the calmness and tenderness of the rural environment paints with a different style. Where you live may determine what your personality traits are. Donald W. Fiske’s research included in Psychological Inquiry Volume 5, 1994 has sparked the theory of the “big five” personality traits. Many researchers agree that there are five core personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Foreign exchange student senior Eleonora Saso would describe herself as ‘open-minded.’ She explained, “Maybe it is because I lived in Rome, which is a very big city, there are a lot more people with many differences.” Learning how to accept these differences leads to open-mindedness. Living in a small town with less diversity of thought causes closed-mindedness. Big cities have a relatively large population of people who migrated from elsewhere. People bring their culture along with them, which influences a variety of different thoughts. A small town however may experience a group of people who have the same thoughts and resist new ideas, resisting new ways of life.

Where someone grows up determines where that person goes to school. Schools are meant to build good learning habits. During the earlier stages of life, the school curriculum teaches students how to think. The South Lyon School District uses a system called “habits of mind.” The habits of mind are meant to build successful ‘habits,’ as opposed to successful acts. Typical good learning habits such as questioning and problem posing, managing impulsivity, and striving for accuracy are a focal point for students in South Lyon to be able to master. Conscientiousness is defined as being “meticulous and careful” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Learning with a focus on the habits of mind may adhere to conscientiousness more than another school who may use a different system that focuses on other values.

The third personality trait is extraversion. People who are very strong in extraversion love to be the center of attention and find it easy to make friends. Some cities are more fast-paced than others. If you tried to pay attention to everything that happens during a given moment in New York, you would be overwhelmed. New Yorkers become accustomed to the chaos and a fast paced environment, and learn to ignore things that do not directly impact their well-being. It takes a Herculean effort to become the center of attention in a city where people are actively trying to ignore each other. People with high extraversion also tend to speak the first thing that comes to mind, rather than someone who is low in extraversion who tends to think before responding. The fast paced environment conditions the population to think and act quickly on the first instinct.  

Another of the main personality components is agreeableness. Agreeableness is characterized by having a deep care for other people. A small suburban community where everybody knows each other will result in a population high in agreeableness. People become more agreeable when they hear a ‘Hey, Jerry, how are the kids doing?’ everytime they go out to grab the mail. Again, people in big cities must learn to ignore most of the non-crucial strangers with whom they happen to cross paths. In order to do so, one must distinguish people who they have a deep care for from the people who give little to no extra value. South Lyon fits very well with this trait due to its small population and lack of bustle.             

Neuroticism is the last of the big five personality traits. People who rank high in neuroticism are very sad, moody, and they are very susceptible to stress. There are many different things that contribute to stress relief. Many of these are dependent on your location, sunny weather, for example, increases the brian’s level of serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that helps you stay calm and focused.Honolulu, Hawaii and Sunnyvale, California are the two cities who experience the lowest violent crime rates, drug poisoning mortality rates, and percent of population engaged in excessive drinking.

There are many different things that will have an effect on personality. Hometown impact also has a far reaching sphere of influence, the entire population experiences the same externalities. Openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism are all challenged by the place that one spends most of their time.

Photo courtesy of 50states.com

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