Unless you've been off the grid for the past few weeks, you've surely had at least one encounter with the movie trailer for "The Great Gatsby," Hollywood's latest attempt to wrap its head around the great American entrepreneurial dream.
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In the U.S., the entrepreneurial spirit is associated with personality characteristics such as being socially engaging, responsible, creative, able to handle stress, and at times, uncompromising.
Founders of successful companies tend to exhibit personality traits that make them more socially engaging, more creative and better able to handle stress than non-entrepreneurs, according to new research from the University of Jena in Germany and The University of Texas at Austin.
It seems they also have geographic roots in common, the research shows.
Jena researchers Martin Obschonka, Eva Schmitt-Rodermund and Rainer K. Silbereisen, along with Samuel Gosling, a UT Austin professor of psychology, mapped the “entrepreneurial personality structures” in the United States, Great Britain and Germany, identifying regions where a feeling of entrepreneurial spirit is "most at home." The research will be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The team analyzed the personalities of more than 500,000 U.S. citizens, in addition to approximately 20,000 Germans and 15,000 English within each country.
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In the U.S., entrepreneurial spirit was found to be high in western states such as Colorado and Utah, and low in Rust Belt states such as Michigan and Deep South states such as Mississippi. Researchers found substantial correlations between the geographic distribution of the entrepreneurial personality structure and the regional distribution of actual entrepreneurial activity, such as the number of startups in a region.
You guessed it: Jay Gatsby originally hailed from North Dakota, a hop-skip-and-a-jump from America's entrepreneurial heartland.
"The Rust Belt has a long tradition in rule-driven mass production," Gosling said. "It is therefore possible that this region supported non-entrepreneurial values more strongly, which in turn might have been reflected in a less marked entrepreneurial personality structure."
The psychologists found similar results in Germany and Great Britain. Although there are no firm explanations for these regional differences, one possible cause might be found in the socialization processes within the regions, where prevalent "entrepreneurial values" are conveyed through parenting or social institutions.