Adviser on the Edge

careers in island communities: research, theory and practice


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Where should you live based on your personality…?

Pixabay Quiz

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

I was reminded of this test on the BBC website the other day for finding out where you should live based on your personality. If you like silly personality tests on social media you’ll love this!

Unlike many social media quizzes however this one is based in scientific research, published in Rentfrow P.J., Jokela M., & Lamb, M.E. (2015). Regional Personality Differences in Great Britain.

The way that personality varies across places is fascinating to me. I’m reminded of Savage’s concept of ‘elective belonging’ – that we can ‘elect’ to belong somewhere (Savage, Bagnall & Longhurst: 2005). And although I suspect we rarely consciously think ‘oh this place suits my personality’ I wonder how much we subconsciously take our personality into account when we choose where to live?

Oh and in case you were wondering this was my test result – pretty close huh?:

Shetland Islands 72% Life Satisfaction

We predict that a personality type like yours would experience 72% life satisfaction in Shetland Islands.

Located 100 miles off the mainland, the Shetland Islands’ economies are dependent on fishing, farming and the petroleum industries. The rocky islands enjoy short mild summers and long, cool winters.

The district ranked the second lowest in Britain for extraversion, and the fourth highest for agreeableness. Levels of all other traits – openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism – were average for Britain.

Population density

20/km²

Ranked 373 of 380

Average age

39 years

Ranked 272 of 380

Average annual income

25,207

Ranked 194 of 375

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

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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Finding my place: poetry and migration

Something you may not know about me is that as well as being a careers adviser and studying for a PhD, I am also a poet. Over the last six months or so I have been thinking about creative writing, and exploring potential connections with narrative and biographical approaches to careers and migration. This thinking culminated in a paper that I presented last week at the Creative Orkney conference.

Finding my place

Title slide from my presentation at the conference

In this paper I examined my own use of creative writing during my geographical migration from Cornwall to Orkney. I started by discussing the terminology of ‘place’ and identifying how place is ‘space invested with meaning’ (Cresswell, 2004). I then discussed how creative writing is an excellent tool for generating meaning, and therefore may be used to develop an attachment to a new place. In addition because creative writing requires us to be specific and concrete, this can be particularly useful for enabling us to authentically engage with a new place: learning and using the names of the places, plants, animals and even weather systems for example in our new place.  This helps us to avoid being ‘inauthentic’ in our relationship with place (Relph, 1976)

Alongside helping us to engage with a new place, I also discussed how writing can help to manage some of the emotional content of migration – in my case this was grief at leaving Cornwall, and excitement of moving to Orkney. I identified how regular writing practice could offer a kind of security and familiarity. I also discussed how poetic form and metaphor particularly may be useful as ways of ‘containing’ some some of the challenging emotional content of migration.

Hopefully the full paper will be published as part of the conference proceedings, but in the meantime I’d be really interested  to hear if anyone else has thoughts about how creative writing might be used at a time of geographical migration. Who knows perhaps there is scope for further work in this area?

References

Cresswell, T (2004) Place: a Short Introduction

Relph, E (1976) Place and Placelessness