In what US States are people the friendliest?

@TheHorse (72395)
Walnut Creek, California
March 10, 2016 9:03pm CST
When Ms The Horse and I moved from Iowa to California several years ago, we noticed it immediately. Strangers in the Bay Area make no eye-contact, and generally act as if they're slightly afraid of each other. Outwardly, it appears that they're trying to be "too cool," but it's not too hard to tell that this behavior is fear-based. In my class last week, I gave my Intro to Psychology students an unusual assignment: Be extra friendly to your gas station attendant, grocery clerk, and the stranger walking by you on campus or in town and see what happens. One of my students remarked how how surprised he was when he visited Minnesota last Summer. People said hi to strangers as they passed them on the street, and in general people seemed interested in each others' well-being. If you've traveled, which states do you think are the friendliest? In my experience, Iowa and Montana rank near the top, while California ranks near the bottom. Any speculation concerning what will happen when my Bay Area (California) students "reach out" more than they usually do?
29 people like this
33 responses
@FourWalls (15217)
• United States
11 Mar 16
Why, bless your little ol' heart, son, the South has the friendliest people! Want some iced tea? I find people in Chicago friendly, too...but it's a "different kind of friendly," if that makes sense. By and large the friendliest places I've ever been are all in the south: Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, and North Carolina. And I will say this, too: I was surprised that someone actually struck up a conversation with me at a food counter in New York City. That was 27 years ago, and I don't really want to go back and see if it happens again or if it was just a fluke.
4 people like this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
I find people in New York to "have the look" (as in CA), but they're really helpful and friendly if you (dare) approach them. I go there often because I have family there. I also found Chicago (where I largely grew up) to be "tough" but friendly, except in the "dangerous" neighborhoods.
1 person likes this
@FourWalls (15217)
• United States
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse -- Oh, yes, in Chicago I'm not stopping the car between the Eisenhower and the Indiana state line. As for California, the only part of California I've been to is southern (L.A.). Maybe it's because of that Missing Persons song ("Walking in L.A." -- "nobody walks in L.A.") that people are distant. It's also an expansive city -- whereas Chicago is a big city, but it's a city of neighborhoods. L.A. is a city of suburbs, so there's no real connection. Again, as I say, that's the only part of California I've been to.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@FourWalls I haven't spent that much time in LA. Went to a few concerts (Jesse Winchester, Loudon Wainright, etc.) at McCabe's guitar store, but that's about it. Santa Barbara (where I went to Graduate School) had an interesting mixture of snobbery/friendliness/happiness. I miss it sometimes.
1 person likes this
@Tampa_girl7 (26198)
• United States
11 Mar 16
Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia are very hospitable.
3 people like this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
I want to spend more time in some Southern states. I found people really friendly in Memphis TN and New Orleans LA.
2 people like this
@Tampa_girl7 (26198)
• United States
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse those are two great cities. We live three hours from either and have had a chance to go to them more then once.
1 person likes this
@Mike197602 (13911)
• United Kingdom
11 Mar 16
I do like to respond to all sorts of discussions but in this case I maybe shouldn't as I've never been to america so I can't really comment. I'll be reading other responses with some interest
2 people like this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
Are there differences across the UK?
1 person likes this
@Mike197602 (13911)
• United Kingdom
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse I've not experienced much difference but many people say northeners are more friendly than southerners.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@Mike197602 That's in the UK? I hope I get to visit and see some day.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 Mar 16
Oh ye ~ no one says hi here. And if they do - people will think they're creeps or something!
2 people like this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
Where are you? I see only "United States."
1 person likes this
• United States
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse Southern California
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@infatuatedbby Ah, OK. I'd imagine they're more similar than different overall. To me, Southern Californians seem a bit happier (and better looking) than Northern Californians.
1 person likes this
@allknowing (69406)
• India
11 Mar 16
It's unfair really to put States in grooves. Be it America or anywhere else it all depends on our individual experience.
2 people like this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
So you don't think different regions of the Country have different cultural "norms"?
2 people like this
@allknowing (69406)
• India
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse Every region is a hotchpotch of people from here there and everywhere.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@allknowing So are you saying that the demographic of Iowa is pretty much the same as the demographic of California?
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41407)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
11 Mar 16
I spent a weekend in Minnesota once. Everybody was really nice to us.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
I haven't spent much time in Minnesota, but if it's "Iowa North," I wouldn't mind living there, in spite of the cold in Winter.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41407)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse - I couldn't take that much cold, honestly. Not to mention, I've never seen mosquitoes that big, before or since. But the people are nice.
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@teamfreak16 The biggest and most dense mosquitoes I've ever met were in Southern Michigan when I was at Summer Camp.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (119857)
• Boise, Idaho
11 Mar 16
In Idaho! Syringa, blue birds and friendly folk. I found that people in Oregon and Washington were okay but not real friendly. People in the southern states were alright too. But, when I travel within my own states they are friendlier than anywhere else I have traveled.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
Idaho is a transitional state for me. I go through a bit of Idaho on my way North to Montana, and again when I head West to Washington. I'll have to pay more attention.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (119857)
• Boise, Idaho
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse .....Been here all of my life.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@celticeagle My brother has a Summer cabin up in Northern Idaho. It sure is pretty country.
1 person likes this
@DianneN (84977)
• United States
11 Mar 16
I find people friendly or unfriendly in every state and country. It depends on how you behave, look, and act - the whole package.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
So you don't believe there are differences between states?
1 person likes this
@DianneN (84977)
• United States
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse Nope.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@DianneN Interesting. Is your natural tendency to be pretty friendly and outgoing?
1 person likes this
• United States
11 Mar 16
I think there are handfuls of friendly people in all of the states, I cannot just pick one . . .
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
You haven't noticed differences between different states? Maybe it all depends on the mood of the perceiver.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse what I notice, community-speaking of course, is lack of simple hospitality, compassion even simple cognitive thinking--- I think its the lead or other metals in the water that is affecting the small pea sized brains some individuals have . . . thank goodness I am filtering my water here since 2007
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
13 Mar 16
@enlightenedpsych2 Where are you, again? We have plenty of pea-sized brains in California.
1 person likes this
@pgiblett (6587)
• Canada
11 Mar 16
That is an interesting question. I recall the friendliness of folks in Minnesota, I have some good Texan friends who are very friendly. My neighbours across the river in up state New York are also friendly.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
I wonder if it's an urban v. urban/suburban thing. I'll be enjoying and learning from the responses this one.
1 person likes this
@pgiblett (6587)
• Canada
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse I don't know whether the urban-suburban-rural thing makes a difference, but I suspect it does. We see places where they say "the last murder occurred here back in 1927" or "the doors are left open at night" and those places are mostly friendlier. But there are neighbourhoods in Toronto (the fourth largest city in USA/Canada) where you here the same thing being said.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@pgiblett Perhaps I'd like Toronto, then, in spite of the coldish Winters.
1 person likes this
@Morleyhunt (20985)
• Canada
11 Mar 16
We have found people to be very friendly in Kentucky, Tennessee. They are a little more standoffish in North Carolina.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
Interesting! So there are differences among the so-called "Southern" states. I've spent some time in Atlanta GA, but I'm usually with my friends there, so it's hard to say. At the airport in Atlanta, I had a shocking experience where people tended to help people of their own "race" more than those of other races (it's not really like that here in CA), but I don't know if that's the norm or not.
1 person likes this
@Morleyhunt (20985)
• Canada
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse I have noticed that. If I as a "white " person hold the door for a person of colour, they always seem surprised.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@Morleyhunt Is that in Canada? Here in CA, that's one area where most people are pretty cool. We're so used to people of all different "ethnicities," I hardly notice whether the person I'm holding a door for is Asian, black, Mexican, white, or whatever.
1 person likes this
@Platespinner (17062)
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
12 Mar 16
Alabama was friendlier than North Carolina is, and they're both friendlier than the corner of Canada in which I grew up.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Mar 16
Interesting about the South. But most Canadians I know are friendly as well.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
12 Mar 16
@TheHorse Canadians don't generally wave or say hello to random strangers the way southerners do.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Mar 16
@Platespinner I'll have to check next time I'm up North. Montanans still do, but not as much as in my youth. I haven't been over the border into Alberta for awhile.
@JudyEv (134917)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Mar 16
I guess I would expect people to react firstly with surprise, perhaps even suspicion, then relax and become more friendly.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
That's actually a good summery. Is it like that in Australia?
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (134917)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse I think mostly country areas are friendlier than cities. I can't really comment much on other states.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@JudyEv I've been doing this assignment for several years. The surprise/suspicion reaction is common, often followed by warmth and relaxation, as you suggested.
1 person likes this
@SIMPLYD (83078)
• Philippines
11 Mar 16
I will take a note of that , so when i visit the US someday , i know where i can meet the friendliest people. Filipinos are generally friendly and hospitable .
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
I think that people from other countries are generally treated kindly. I noticed that in both Italy and France. Germany as well.
1 person likes this
@SIMPLYD (83078)
• Philippines
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse If only all people are friendly .
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
@SIMPLYD Some are lost in their own thoughts or worries. I understand that.
1 person likes this
@Drosophila (16699)
• Ireland
12 Mar 16
Cali is pretty unfriendly! LAX is the worst airport.. ever. Border officer are so hostile, I always emphasise how I don't actually want to be visiting US, and how I look forward to go home!
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Mar 16
I'm looking forward to visiting Ireland.
1 person likes this
@Drosophila (16699)
• Ireland
12 Mar 16
@TheHorse our border officers are much friendlier.
1 person likes this
@nanette64 (17934)
• Fairfield, Texas
11 Mar 16
I think southern states are pretty friendly @TheHorse . It's not unusual to hear the words: Sugar, Sweetie, Babe, Honey when addressing someone; even if you don't know them. Now depending on whether the kids can get people to look up from their cell phones, they might actually get a response.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
The "cell phone problem" is huge here in CA. But I've seen it among the young even in Montana.
1 person likes this
@nanette64 (17934)
• Fairfield, Texas
12 Mar 16
@TheHorse I do think the cell-phone thing is a massive problem.
• United States
11 Mar 16
California was, and still it, populated by people from other places. This means people have not grown up in a close knit community, for the most part. Keeping to oneself became part of the culture, and it stuck. I don't know how to solve it. I say hi to everyone within eyeshot. I smile at people who are too far away to do so. I was born here, but my parents were not.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
Interesting. I noticed in Santa Barbara (years ago) that NATIVE Californians were quite friendly. Maybe the grumpy ones are often those who came here from somewhere else.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Mar 16
@TheHorse Could be. Being friendly does not come easily for me, but it is something really high on my to do list every day.
• United States
11 Mar 16
I've been to every state east of the Mississippi and a few west of it and so far I don't think any of them stand out as being the friendliest.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
Interesting. Have you spent much time in California? Another state where I was pleasantly surprised was Oklahoma.
• United States
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse years ago - I spent two weeks there. I think there are friendly and unfriendly people all over the US.
• Philippines
11 Mar 16
I don't know maybe most Americans are friendly, but Im pretty sure not all of them.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
I find that there are vast differences by region. Others disagree and say this is not the case.
• Philippines
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse well, that's what America is about, different people. It's crazy that there are nice people there.
@Jessicalynnt (47880)
• Centralia, Missouri
11 Mar 16
I grew up in Iowa, I noticed that lack of eye contact thing in Oregon too
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (72395)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Mar 16
When I drive to Montana via the Oregon route (sometimes I go via Salt Lake City), I find that Oregon people are more friendly than Californians, though not as friendly as Montanans or Iowans.
1 person likes this
• Centralia, Missouri
11 Mar 16
@TheHorse I admit, I hadn't gotten used to Oregon's no eye contact thing. Then I move to Texas, and everyone wants to talk to everyone... It still weirds me out