Adviser on the Edge

careers in island communities: research, theory and practice

“People are happiest living in an area that matches their personality, claim researchers”

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Earlier this week I came across a news report about a piece of research conducted in London. The researchers used responses from 56,000 Londoners to create maps showing personality types across the districts of the city. Conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion are just some of the traits they mapped. Alongside mapping personality traits the researchers mapped life satisfaction and concluded that “these findings demonstrate how individuals with different personality dispositions derive life satisfaction from different aspects of their social and physical environments” (quoted from the abstract to their paper: ‘Geographically varying associations between personality and life satisfaction in the London metropolitan area’.)

Albeit that this research is based on personality traits within an urban residential area, the article reminded me of my earlier blog post on ‘place and identity’ which considered the different attractions of different places within the UK, and speculated a link to identity. Personally I think I prefer the notion of a link between place and identity rather than between place and personality per se. This is because I think focusing on a discrete individual ‘personality’ might tend to overlook the role of social and cultural construction of our self-concept. So, for example, one of the things I am interested in is how we might become socialised into our environments – with, say, potentially rural young people having quite a different experience of place to more urban young people. So, how does where we are brought up, and our experiences in other environments (for example places we moved to, schools, university) influence our ideas about ourselves and our environments and therefore our future choices of places to live that would suit ‘someone like me’? I guess this is one of the major themes of my PhD, and something I’m hoping to get an insight into when I start interviewing participants later this year!

Reference: Jokela, Bleidorn, Lamb, Gosling, Rentfrow (2015) ‘Geographically varying associations between personality and life satisfaction in the London metropolitan area’ PNAS January 12, 2015

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