British Study Says Montanans 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 jerks.  

But tough jerks at that.

Totally Average Montana Dog
Totally Average Montana Dog

Leave a Comment Here

Dawn Saari, Pr… (not verified) , Mon, 03/15/2021 - 09:33
There is more of Montana that IS NOT mountains than there is that is. I know for a fact that I have a Montana mindset but grew up in the central / north central parts of the state.
Less introvert… (not verified) , Tue, 06/21/2022 - 15:22
But tend to be a tough Jerk to "outlanders" (i.e. many Texans)
Chris Boeres (not verified) , Thu, 11/16/2023 - 10:16
As a child of Appalachia and those beautiful if less grand hills I’ll witness that the jerk thing many be more universal than them English say
Eric Blair (not verified) , Thu, 11/16/2023 - 12:49
Personally, I prefer ‘cantankerous pragmatic realist with zero gumption for bull pucky’. I came to Montana a few years after a grounded Hoosier upbringin. My Godmother was born in Argenta and often intrigued me with a life I knew I was destined to eventually employ. I will be forever grateful to her. Being a Montanan is not just a full life experience but a sentient connection with everything that we hold dear as the true Wild West
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