Saturday, November 14, 2009

Utah ranks #1.


I read an article this week on MSN that ranked Utah as the "happiest" state in the country. Well ... what do you know? How could that not be one of my own happy little things then? :)

Here is a little bit of that article:

Happiest U.S. States are Wealthy and Tolerant
Utah Tops the list, followed by Washington and Minnesota
by Jenna Bryner

Though you might not be able to run away from your problems, moving to another state could be good for your soul. New research suggests U.S. states with wealthier, better educated and more tolerant residents are also happier on average.

The reasoning is that wealthy states can provide infrastructure and so it's easier for residents to get their needs met. In addition, states with a greater proportion of artists and gays would also be places where residents are also happier on average.

On average, well-being was highest in the Mountain states and West Coast states, followed by the Eastern Seaboard and then the Midwest and Southern states.

The researchers note that because a state scores high or low doesn't mean you could pluck out a resident and expect that person to be appropriately cheery or depressed. And not every state in the union sits exactly where you might expect on the list.

"We can only make generalizations about groups of people," said study researcher Jason Rentfrow of the University of Cambridge in England. "These results don't say wealthy people are happier than unwealthy people, (or that) people who live in areas where people are wealthy are happier."

Rentfrow and his colleagues came to their conclusions by analyzing data collected from more than 350,000 individuals who were interviewed between Jan.2 and Dec. 30, 2008 as part of the Gallup Organization's Well-Being Index. The index includes six types of well-being: overall evaluation of their lives, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors (such as whether a person smokes or exercises), and job satisfaction.

Here are the top 10 states and their average well-being scores (out of a possible 100 points):
  • Utah: 69.2
  • Hawaii: 68.2
  • Wyoming: 68
  • Colorado: 67.3
  • Minnesota: 67.3
  • Maryland: 67.1
  • Washington: 67.1
  • Massachusetts: 67
  • California: 67
  • Arizona: 66.8

Here are a few more points brought out in the article about Utah that were interesting:

Of the personality factors, neuroticism took a toll on a state's cheery count, suggesting people living in the happiest states are more relaxed than their gloomy counterparts. For instance, West Virginia, Mississippi and Kentucky were ranked as highly neurotic and showed lower well-being scores. Utah, on the other hand, had a significantly lower level of neurotiscism than other states.

And ... Ed Diener (a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies well-being) points out that Utah is conservative, and research has suggested such right-leaning individuals are a bit happier than others. Hawaii's ranking could be due to a relaxed culture, he said, adding that the three top states may just have strong families and social relationships.