If someone told you that your neighborhood could impact your happiness, would you believe them? It makes sense, after all. Your commute time to work, your proximity to friends and family, your access to your favorite hobbies are all factors of your surrounding environment that could positively or negatively impact your life. But what if that same person also told you that your personality determines where you live and how happy you are?
A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by an international group of psychologists recently took a look at the intersection between personality and happiness. The study, as detailed in CITYLAB, applied the five-factor model of measuring personality traits to different neighborhoods in London. It explores the neighborhood clustering of the five basic personality traits based on the five-factor model: openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability (or lack of neuroticism). For example, the most clustered personality trait was “openness to experience,” which was concentrated in the center of London; while agreeableness and conscientiousness are concentrated in outlying suburban areas. Overall, the study demonstrates that psychological forces shape our neighborhoods as much as social and economic factors.
We wondered what would happen if we applied that same model to the Bay Area. What would our neighborhood map look like based on those five personality traits? And could the key to happiness lie in finding the neighborhood or area best suited to your personality? First, let’s break down the five personalities.
San Francisco: Openness to Experience
“Open to experiences” is characterized by “appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience.”
With its entrepreneurial spirit, progressive attitude, and melting pot of cultures and lifestyle choices, San Francisco is the obvious choice. The city is also considered the most liberal place in the country, according to The Economist, further cementing its openness. In San Francisco, you need to be open to all kinds of experiences, including the experience of spending more money for less house.