Saturday, October 2, 2010

Normal: Head-Strong or Heart-Strong?

A study by Park and Peterson (2010), "Does it Matter Where We Live?: The Urban Psychology of Character Strengths," suggests that some cities have residents with higher levels of what they call "head strengths" while other cities have residents with higher levels of what they call "heart strengths." Head strengths are intellectual and self-oriented while heart strengths are emotional and interpersonal.

Using a questionnaire posted on their website, the authors of the study rank the 50 largest cities in the U.S. based on these two strengths. San Francisco, CA, had the highest head strength and El Paso, TX, had the highest heart strength.

Variables correlated with head strength included voting for Obama in 2008, a larger number of colleges and universities, a higher cost of living, and greater population density. Variables correlated with heart strength included voting for McCain in 2008, smaller population, less population density, a higher average yearly temperature, lower cost of living, and more families with children.

Normal probably meets more of the qualifications of a heart-strong town than a head-strong town, with the exception of having colleges and a university. Looking at the study's list of heart strengths, the people in Normal should be fair, forgiving, grateful, honest, hopeful, playful, kind, leaders, loving, modest, persistent, religious, team-players, and enthusiastic. But if lacking in head strength, Normal residents probably don't appreciate beauty, aren't creative, curious or open-minded, and don't love learning.  I can think of all sorts of exceptions to those conclusions! Of course, it's always good to use your head and your heart, so it would be best if Normal residents have a mix of both strengths.

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