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The lay of the land: Associations between environmental features and personality.

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Serapio-García, Gregory  ORCID logo
Kong, Wenyuan 


OBJECTIVE: Personality traits cluster across countries, regions, cities, and neighborhoods. What drives the formation of these clusters? Ecological theory suggests that physical locations shape humans' patterns of behaviors and psychological characteristics. Based on this theory, we examined whether and how differential land-cover relates to individual personality. METHOD: We followed a preregistered three-pronged analysis approach to investigate the associations between personality (N = 2,690,878) and land-cover across the United States. We used eleven land-cover categories to classify landscapes and tested their association with personality against broad physical and socioeconomic factors. RESULTS: Urban areas were positively associated with openness to experience and negatively associated with conscientiousness. Coastal areas were positively associated with openness to experience and neuroticism but negatively associated with agreeableness and conscientiousness. Cultivated areas were negatively associated with openness. Landscapes at the periphery of human activity, such as shrubs, bare lands, or permanent snows, were not reliably associated with personality traits. CONCLUSIONS: Bivariate correlations, multilevel, and random forest models uncovered robust associations between landscapes and personality traits. These findings align with ecological theory suggesting that an individual's environment contributes to their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.


Funder: Gates Cambridge Trust; Id:

Funder: Hampton Fund Research Grant

Funder: Nokia; Id:


Big Five, ecological psychology, geographical psychology, landscape, personality, physical environments, Humans, United States, Personality Inventory, Personality, Neuroticism, Personality Disorders, Emotions

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J Pers

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Economic and Social Research Council (ES/J500033/)