Cambridge Study Says We Mountain Folk Have a "Wild West" Personality

Cowboy with hat and sunset

It takes a certain kind of person to move to Montana -- especially back when it was less civilized than it is now.  I think we all instinctually understand this, because even now your average Montanan is, well, a breed apart.

But University of Cambridge researchers say that they have identified the kinds of personalities that would have moved to the rugged, mountainous frontier.  And they say that those personality traits persist in the far west even today.    

Grizzled cowboy
Totally average Montana man

Scientists administered a personality test to over 3,000 Americans and then compared the results to the topography of their zip code and established a link between higher elevations and specific personality traits.  It seems that people who live at higher elevations are, in the words of researcher Friedrich Götz, more likely to be "nonconformist settlers strongly motivated by a sense of freedom."

The study also shows that, broadly speaking, the mountainous or "Wild West" personality is likely to be more introverted, less neurotic, and significantly more open to new experiences.

But not all of the "Wild West" traits are as uniformly positive; the study also shows that we mountain folk are much less "agreeable", and are more likely to exhibit "territorial, self-focused survival strategies."

Cowgirl aiming gun
Totally average Montana woman

Interestingly, they found that people who were raised in the mountains and moved away underwent a process of "enculturation", meaning that while they were initially introverted, disagreeable and reasonably devoid of neuroses, they eventually lost some of those traits in becoming used to their new homes.  Researchers also showed that the "Wild West" personality was more pronounced in folks who lived in western mountains, like the Rockies, as opposed to those who lived in eastern mountains, like the Appalachias.

Well, we surely aren't scientists, but we think we get the gist of what those scientists were saying.  All of that was just a jargon-heavy way of saying what we already know: that we're all assholes.  

But tough assholes at that.

Totally Average Montana Dog
Totally Average Montana Dog

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