On the move: Personality influences migration patterns

September 24, 2008,

When meeting someone for the first time, the second question that is usually asked (following "what's your name?") is "where do you live?". Until recently, it was not apparent just how revealing that answer may be. Although behavioral research has suggested that people who are extremely outgoing have a tendency to relocate often, was unknown if specific areas attract particular personality types.

Psychologists Markus Jokela and Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen from the University of Helsinki along with their colleagues Marko Elovainio from the National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health and Mika Kivimäki of University College London, wanted to know if certain personality traits would influence migration patterns more so than others.

The psychologists randomly selected participants from a population-based health study in Finland. The researchers studied data which spanned over nine years and included information relating to personality (via self-assessment questionnaires) and a variety of demographic information (including where participants had lived over the nine year period). The three personality traits (or temperaments) that the researchers focused on were sociability (people with high sociability prefer the company of others to being alone), emotionality (increased emotionality indicates a tendency to experience negative emotions, especially fear and anger) and activity (high activity is characterized by being very active, energetic and also restless).

The results, reported in the September issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest that personality traits determine not only where people relocate to, but also how often they move and how far away they move. The researchers found that people with a very active personality have a tendency to migrate, to both urban and rural locales. People who are very emotional are more likely to move away from home, but do not migrate very far and do not move very often. Emotional people tend to migrate equally to both urban and rural locations. People with very social personalities are more inclined to leave rural settings for urban areas and are more likely to migrate over long distances.

The authors suggest that since urban areas are densely populated, they appeal to people with high sociability traits—urban areas offer plenty of opportunities for social interaction. Although very emotional people are more likely to move away from home, the fact that they do not move often or selectively to urban locations indicates that people with this personality trait move simply because they are not content where they are. In addition, very emotional people were found to migrate over shorter distances. The authors suggest that emotional people may prefer shorter moves because they are less stressful compared to long distance moves and that "emotionality appears to have a dual role in migration by increasing migration probability but decreasing migration distance."

This study has implications for urban planners, neighborhood developers and also the real estate market. A better understanding of the types of personalities a certain place attracts may improve the way housing and jobs there are marketed, as well as the types of stores that are brought into that area. In addition, personality based migration may have long term consequences for a particular location. "Temperament-related self-selection may also modify population structures, and in the long run, genetic variation underlying temperament differences may become differentially distributed across geographic regions," the authors conclude.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Explore further: Nighttime noise has damaging effects on Lausanne residents

Related Stories

Nighttime noise has damaging effects on Lausanne residents

June 5, 2018
Researchers at EPFL, the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) compared the geographical distribution of nearly 3,700 Lausanne residents suffering from daytime sleepiness with the noise ...

New dispatching approach could cut the number of taxis on the road while meeting rider demand

May 23, 2018
The rise of self-driving cars is set to dramatically alter the way we move around cities in the future.

Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour

May 24, 2018
A lot can happen at 160 degrees Fahrenheit: Eggs fry, salmonella bacteria dies, and human skin will suffer third-degree burns. If a car is parked in the sun on a hot summer day, its dashboard can hit 160 degrees in about ...

Study: Guns in Chicago just '2.5 handshakes' away

May 22, 2018
In one of the first studies to try to map a gun market using network science, researchers used the novel scientific approach to understand how close offenders are to guns in the city of Chicago.

Urban nature—what kinds of plants and wildlife flourish in cities?

June 27, 2017
Biodiversity refers to the variety of all living things on Earth, but people often have very specific ideas of what it means. If you run an online search for images of biodiversity, you are likely to find lots of photos of ...

Startup pioneers human-centric urban travel

September 19, 2017
For city dwellers, life without an automobile can be filled with daily headaches and frequent inconveniences. Everyday tasks, like lugging a few grocery bags from the nearest market to a walk-up apartment, become a pain in ...

Recommended for you

Psychiatric disorders share an underlying genetic basis

June 21, 2018
Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder often run in families. In a new international collaboration, researchers explored the genetic connections between these and other disorders of the brain at ...

One year of school comes with an IQ bump, meta-analysis shows

June 21, 2018
A year of schooling leaves students with new knowledge, and it also equates with a small but noticeable increase to students' IQ, according to a systematic meta-analysis published in Psychological Science, a journal of the ...

Ketamine acts fast to treat depression and its effects last—but how?

June 21, 2018
In contrast to most antidepressant medications, which can take several weeks to reduce depressive symptoms, ketamine—a commonly used veterinary anesthetic—can lift a person out of a deep depression within minutes of its ...

New study debunks Dale Carnegie advice to 'put yourself in their shoes'

June 21, 2018
Putting yourself in someone else's shoes and relying on intuition or "gut instinct" isn't an accurate way to determine what they're thinking or feeling," say researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), the ...

Mindful movement may help lower stress, anxiety

June 21, 2018
Taking a walk may be a good opportunity to mentally review your to-do list, but using the time to instead be more mindful of your breathing and surroundings may help boost your wellbeing, according to researchers.

Brain tingles—first study of its kind reveals physiological benefits of ASMR

June 21, 2018
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) – the relaxing 'brain tingles' experienced by some people in response to specific triggers, such as whispering, tapping and slow hand movements – may have benefits for both ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.