There are four S’s and a slew of happy couples in Mississippi, according to a new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality in late December.
The Magnolia State, along with Utah and Wisconsin, were found to be the best states for relationships, while the Dakotas ranked among the worst for intimacy.
Bill Chopik, an assistant psychology professor at Michigan State University, and Matt Motyl, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, analyzed survey data gathered from 127,070 adults across the U.S.
The participants ranked statements on a 7-point scale — from 1 (strongly agree) to 7 (strongly disagree) — and the lower the overall score, the better those people are likely to fare in relationships. Examples from the testing include statements such as “I don’t feel comfortable opening up to romantic partners” and “I often worry that my partner doesn’t really love me.”
The survey attempted to dig deeper into the attachment theory idea in adults.
Attachment theory, primarily studied in relationships between infants and parents in the 1960s and 1970s, was extended to include adult relationships in the late 1980s. The questions in Chopik and Motyl’s survey focused on attachment anxiety — in which people are classified as “clingy,” or constantly worried their partner will leave them — and attachment avoidance, in which people shun intimacy and act distant towards partners and relationships in general.
The Best and Worst States for Lovers
The best states for lovers, according to the findings, were Mississippi, Utah, and Wisconsin, which topped the list; followed by Vermont, Alaska, North Carolina, Delaware, Minnesota, and Oregon. California, Maine, and Washington tied for 10th place on the list.
The Pacific Coast was found to be the best area for quality relationships. Top states for lovers also had high marriage rates and low numbers of people living in isolation.
So in which states are relationships typically doomed to fail? North Dakota fared the worst, followed by Kentucky, Kansas, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Ohio, South Carolina, Colorado, New York, and Indiana. The participants from these states tended to score high on both attachment anxiety and avoidance.
“When I think of New York, I think of the anxious Woody Allen type, and New York had one of the highest scores for attachment anxiety,” said Chopik.
The good news for married couples in those states is that none rank in the top ten for divorce in the country, so perhaps these states are only poison for unmarried duos.
Chopik and Motyl stressed that just because a couple lives in an area that scored high in the testing, that’s no reason to believe a relationship within state borders is doomed to fail.
“To a certain degree, positive relationships are found everywhere,” the researchers told MSU Today, “and transcend time and place. After all, home is where the heart is.”