Researchers at the University of Cambridge have analysed 400,000 responses to the BBC’s Big Personality Test, an online survey available in 2009, in order to determine the UK regions in which certain characteristics are most prevalent. The study focuses on levels of emotional stability, extraversion, conscientiousness, openness and agreeableness, and reveals that particularly high or low levels of these characteristics are often linked to health, social or economic outcomes. The table below shows the wider characteristics that are often found in areas with a particularly high level of each of the personal characteristics studied.


Emotional stability Individuals who are more emotionally stable than average are also more likely to have had greater career success, to have greater relationship satisfaction, to be in a better state of physical health and to be middle class.


Extroversion Residents who display high levels of extroversion also tend to be in a better state of health than those who are more introverted.


Conscientiousness Individuals who are particularly conscientious are more likely to be socially conservative. They are also more likely to be older, married and earning higher incomes, having enjoyed greater career success than the average. They are also more likely to be in a better state of health, and have lower rates of mortality as a result of cancer or heart disease.


Openness Individuals who are particularly open are more likely to hold liberal political views. They are also more likely to hold a university degree and earn higher incomes than the average. Residents who are born outside the UK or who are homosexual are more likely to be particularly open, and areas with high numbers of particularly open residents tend to enjoy lower levels of violent crime.


Agreeableness Areas with particularly high levels of agreeableness often have higher proportions of residents who are female, married or on lower incomes. Rates of violent crime are also lower than average.




The below table shows regions in which each characteristic was most likely or unlikely to be found:

Most common area Other common areas Least common area Other less common areas
Agreeableness Isles of Scilly Scotland, northern England,  south-west England City of London London, parts of the East of England
Conscientiousness Isles of Scilly Southern England, areas of the Midlands, Scottish Highlands Merthyr Tydfil London, Wales, parts of northern England
Emotional stability Orkney Islands South-west of England, southern England, parts of Scotland Barrow-in-Furness Wales, parts of the Midlands
Extraversion Hammersmith and Fulham London, Manchester Boston, Lincolnshire East Midlands, Wales, Humberside, northern England, eastern Scotland
Openness Hackney London, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow Maldon, Essex Parts of the East Midlands and the East of England


An online test which reveals the districts with the closest and furthest fit from an individual’s basic characteristics can still be taken on the BBC website.


Photo credit: ‘Personality Test’ by Travis Wise