Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosy

A study (PDF) published in the Journal of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences ranks each state on tightness versus looseness, where a state that ranks higher on tightness will tend to be more socially stable and have lower rates of homelessness. However they are also places with greater discrimination, lower creativity and lower happiness than states which are considered to be looser.

tightness-loosenessThe top ten states considered to have high tightness are:
1 Mississippi 78.86
2 Alabama 75.45
3 Arkansas 75.03
4 Oklahoma 75.03
5 Tennessee 68.81
6 Texas 67.54
7 Louisiana 65.88
8 Kentucky 63.91
9 South Carolina 61.39
10 North Carolina 60.67

These states were the loosest:
41 Vermont 37.23
42 New Hampshire 36.97
43 Hawaii 36.49
44 Connecticut 36.37
45 Massachusetts 35.12
46 Maine 34.00
47 Nevada 33.61
48 Washington 31.06
49 Oregon 30.07
50 California 27.37

Georgia comes in at number 12, with a score of 60.26.

Looking at the map, tightness – looseness scores appear to correlate fairly well with whether a state is considered to be politically red or blue. Indeed,

[T]ightness was positively related to conservative political orientation and was positively related to the percentage of individuals voting for Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election. We note that conservatism and tightness are related but distinct constructs. Conservatism is an individual-level set of beliefs that that includes two key features: resistance to or fear of change, and preferences for inequality. Tightness describes an external social reality that exists independent of any one individual and reflects the relative strength of norms and degree of behavioral constraint versus latitude in a social system as a whole.

The study explores many more factors that influence whether a state is tight or loose. Some of the information is fairly technical, as befits a peer-reviewed study.

Ten years ago, Thomas Franks published What’s the Matter With Kansas, which questioned why so many residents of that blue collar state became conservative rather than adopting liberal policies that would have benefited them more. Kansas is the eleventh tightest state, just ahead of Georgia.

Studies like this help explain why.


  1. The jokes just write themselves with this one, folks.

    Fear of change.

    Fear change.


    The GOP: party of Fear

    Please don’t ever change 🙂

    I wonder where Colorado and Washington state will fall in that study, heh…


  2. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    What an odd map and concept. There isn’t much discrimination in states like Maine, NH, and Vermont because there aren’t many minorities – assuming by discrimination they mean racial discrimination. Also, those states have a very little homelessness because it’s so damned COLD.

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