The Economist recently explored whether there was a basis for the idea that Americans who live in mid-western states are more congenial than people from other states. The publication explained ‘Midwest nice’ this way,
“It is apologizing involuntarily when scooting past someone, both to warn of your presence and to express regret for any inconvenience your mere existence may have caused. It is greeting people as they step into a lift and wishing them well as they leave. It is a strong preference for avoiding confrontation.”
The Economist found it all depends on how you measure ‘nice.’
If the standard is volunteerism, the Corporation for National and Community Service reported three of the five states where people volunteer the most are in the Midwest:
1) Utah (West)
2) Minnesota (Midwest)
3) Wisconsin (Midwest)
4) South Dakota (Midwest)
5) Idaho (West)
If the standard is personality, the Midwest shares the blue ribbon for friendliness. A group of researchers from the United States, Britain, and Finland mapped the psychological topography of the United States and found people in Middle America and the South to be friendly and conventional, while those on the West Coast, in Rocky Mountains, and along the Sunbelt were relaxed and creative. Americans in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions were temperamental and uninhibited.
When it comes to charitable giving, Utah and the Southern states come out on top. Southerners give the highest percentage of earnings to charities. The money primarily goes to churches.
The preponderance of the data considered by The Economist suggest that ‘Midwest nice’ has a basis in reality.