Tourism Gimmick: Celebrate our lack of psychopaths

Here’s a new one for the folks in the Division of Tourism to pull out when they need a marketing gimmick: West Virginia — The Least Psychopathic State!

It is true, according to Ryan Murphy, a professor and economist at Southern Methodist University, who actually wrote a research paper titled “Psychopathy by U.S. State.” In his research, he used five main traits as measurements: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

It will surprise very few to learn that Washington, D.C., was deemed the most psychopathic. On the other hand the least psychopathic, after West Virginia, were Vermont, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Montana.

Hmmm … West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee … anyone else see a pattern here?

Murphy’s paper says “Areas of the United States that are measured to be most psychopathic are those in the Northeast and other similarly populated regions. The least psychopathic are predominantly rural areas.”

We might add, three of the five least psychopathic states, according to Murphy’s research, are firmly Appalachian — “served” by the Appalachian Regional Commission, if you need government confirmation. A fourth, Vermont, is well within the Appalachian Mountain range.

(Mid-Ohio Valley residents may be interested to know Ohio was ranked the 21st most psychopathic state, in the research paper.)

Certainly Murphy’s research, while enjoyable to read, is not the final word on the matter. But it does serve as a nice contrast to the constant barrage of reports and studies declaring West Virginia to be the unhappiest, unhealthiest, most downtrodden state in the nation.

“West Virginia: Probably not as psychopathic as where you’re from!”

… Maybe the Tourism wizards can do a little work on the bumper sticker.

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