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STUDY: South Dakotans Have 4th Highest ‘Entrepreneurial Personality’ in the U.S.

(NPN) — Maybe it’s who settled in South Dakota. Or maybe it’s because a broad, undeveloped land forced residents to be innovative.

Whatever the reasons, a new study finds that South Dakotans have the fourth most entrepreneurial personality in the nation. Only the District of Columbia (1), Colorado (2) and Utah (3) rated higher than South Dakota in the scholarly study.

The remaining five of the top 10 states were also largely from the West or Plains states: Nevada (5), Alaska (6), Arizona (7), New Mexico (8), Nebraska (9) and Montana (10). Rankings for other regional states: Wyoming (20), Minnesota (22), North Dakota (23) and Iowa (35).

The study also looked at entrepreneurship by region in the United Kingdom and Germany.

The results are from a study by Dr. Martin Obschonka, a psychologist from Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena in Germany and his team of researchers in Germany and the United States. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology recently published their article on their findings.

“There seems to be a regional psychological character that is important for the region’s economic vitality,” Dr. Obschonka said.

Dr. Obschonka says a number of factors are in play as to whether individuals in a region are entrepreneurial or not.

“First, selective migration over the past 100 or 200 years might play a role because personality is heritable–around 50 percent of a person’s personality might be due to genes,” Dr. Obschonka said. “This means that certain groups with certain personality may have settled in certain regions.”

The psychologist said he and his researchers speculate that early settlers who took the challenge and ventured west were more entrepreneurial in their personality makeup. Dr. Obschonka says this may have caused the high values in the West, including South Dakota.

Conversely, other attributes account for low entrepreneurial personalities in industrialized states, such as in Indiana (41), New Jersey (44) and Ohio (45).

“Second, socialization though regional norms, attitudes, institutions, etc. might also play a role because personality is prone to change and people may adapt to certain regional conditions,” Dr. Obschonka said. “We speculate that the low values in the Rust Belt area might have to do with a socialization effects of non-entrepreneurial values, norms and institutions in this area, e.g., the rule-driven mass production worker might have developed a more non-entrepreneurial mindset.”

The researches looked at the “Big Five” of personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.  According to Dr. Obschonka, the entrepreneurial personality is high in extraversion, conscientiousness and openness and low in agreeableness and neuroticism.

The study also looked at whether entrepreneurial personalities also translated to more entrepreneurial activity.

“We discovered that to a large extent the ‘psychological’ map actually coincided with the economical map of the USA,” Dr. Obschonka said.

The researchers also noted that a region’s personality makeup and a region’s entrepreneurial climate, such as local business conditions conducive to entrepreneurship, interact in determining the rate for establishing new firms within a region.

For their study, the psychologists analyzed data about the personalities of more than half a million of US citizens, about 20,000 Germans and approximately 15,000 British citizens. The official name of the study is, “The regional distribution and correlates of an entrepreneurship-prone personality profile in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom: A socioecological perspective,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, October 2013.

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