July 8, 2014

Classifying the states as "tight" and "loose" — based on the strength of the enforcement of social norms.

An article in Mother Jones: "Forget Red State, Blue State: Is Your State 'Tight' or "'Loose'?/A new theory about the cultures of different regions could go a long way toward explaining why the United States is so polarized."

Questions: Is this really any different from conservative and liberal? If it is, is it a useful way of looking at the United States? If it is, have these researchers — psychologists Jesse R. Harrington and Michele J. Gelfand — identified the right elements of tightness and looseness, determined the correct data, and fed it into a proper formula to do the calculation?
The 10 tightest states? Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The 10 loosest, meanwhile, are California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Vermont. (Notice a pattern here?)
Yeah, I did notice a pattern there. A lefty magazine is always on the lookout for a new way to sneer at the South.


Lyssa said...

From the article: Harrington and Gelfand measure a state's tightness or looseness based on indicators such as the legality of corporal punishment in schools, the general severity of legal sentences, access to alcohol and availability of civil unions, level of religiosity, and the percent of the population that is foreign.

Hmm, no mention, of course, of regulations, ease of starting businesses, taxation, barriers to travel, ability to own homes and land, etc.

Their ideas of what constitutes "tight" are not my ideas of what constitutes "tight."

Vet66 said...

It seems they interpreted the results exactly the opposite of what those results presented. Tightness of certain body parts is a better indication of who is more approachable. I'd rather shop in a West Virginia Walmart than most of the malls between Boston and New York. Gives new meaning to "Out of touch" when describing fashion and being approachable.

Roger Sweeny said...

I can't buy, use, or possess fireworks in Massachusetts. And there's a lot more of that, "we know what's best for you" legal regulation in this state.

Bill Harshaw said...

Where's Utah? Would have thought Utah would be tight, given the position of the LDS in the state, and the ethical beliefs of the church.

Wince said...

"For as the authors write, tighter societies generally have had to deal with 'a greater number of ecological and historical threats, including fewer natural resources, more natural disasters, a greater incidence of territorial threat, higher population density, and greater pathogen prevalence.'"

If you struggle, baby, It only tightens up


Doing as you're told
Hell on hold
Through the night
Without a fight
You gotta face the day

If you struggle, baby, It only tightens up

Brando said...

Of course they sneer at the South! The South is overwhelmingly white which is uncool these days (except that southern states have much higher percentages of black and hispanic residents than true blue states like Vermont or Oregon), the South is overwhelmingly poor (when you don't count Texas or Florida which have had growth far surpassing the blue state rust belt), and the South is culturally backward (if you forget how many iconic musical styles from the blues to rock and roll to soul originated in the South, not to mention culinary styles and classic American literature).

Easy categorization doesn't really work here--is the South really more constricted when you consider economic opportunity and gun rights? As for alchohol, a lot of northern cities still have blue laws and ridiculous regulations that prevent you from buying beer at grocery stores. Whether you're allowed to smoke cigarettes in public or pot at all doesn't make a difference to me as a non-smoker, but it seems that the entire country is a patchwork of freedoms and restrictions that doesn't really hold consistent in any one region.

Henry said...

I guess "cool" and "square" were taken.

Henry said...

"Us" vs "them" would have at least been accurate.

David said...

South Carolina is tight? Have they ever been there?

The rankings must be based on the fact that South Carolinians go to church a lot. Black people for example.

If you have ever been to black church services in SC, you would know that they are the opposite of tight.

You want tight, go with the South Carolina Episcopal Church. Not the Anglicans, the Episcopalians who split from the Anglicans over female priests, gay mawwiage, etc. Now that's tight. Tighty whitey.

Overall South Carolinians are pretty relaxed. To a fault perhaps. Thus church. Much forgiveness needed.

Some Seppo said...

Funny, they use 9 parameters and two of the 9 are religious.

"Percentage of Individuals for Whom Religion Is Important in Their Daily
Life and Percentage of Individuals with No Religious Affiliation."

Not only that, but the two parameters reinforce each other. I guess if the study was anti-gun instead of just reinforcing religious preference as "tightness" they could have used "percentage of individuals who don't own a gun" and "percentage of individuals who think guns are a danger in their daily life".

Supporting Information PDF

Aunty Trump said...

If you think Vermont is a "loose state" try going to a party and abstaining from pot, with a conservative haircut and glasses, and a demeanor that doesn't go into ballistic sympathy when somebody says "The Supreme Court just decided that money has religious freedom, man!"

Aunty Trump said...

Of course, Vermont does have the most progressive gun laws in the country, meaning the least restrictive.

Michael K said...

"the host of Climate Desk Live. He is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science."

Any other questions ?

The article is typical leftist BS.

Henry said...

From the article: "Still not done, Harrington and Gelfand also show that their index of states "tightness" and "looseness" maps nicely on to prior analyses of the differing personalities of people living in different US states."

This is social science the way she is done. We know the theory is true because it agrees with our preconceptions.

tim maguire said...

I don't accept that the country is polarized. The country may seem more polarized by interest groups shouting louder than ever with the ever better bullhorns technology gives them, but the average American is much the same as always.

Paco Wové said...

I wonder how many people in those "tight" states lost their jobs because of their political opinions.

Fernandistein said...

(Notice a pattern here?)

Yup. Compare their map with this census map: http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_nhblack.html

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

Like Lyssa said @7:24.

But what I find most interesting is the peculiar notion of "toleration of deviance" operating here. You don't "tolerate" things you already approve of, and you have to recognize something as actually being a "deviance" to extend tolerance to it. E.g., "legality of same-sex marriage" is given as one of the measures of "deviance tolerance". Why? Do any supporters of ssm think of homosexuals, or homosexuals marrying, as "deviant"? Of course not. So states where the population approves of ssm are not tolerating a violation of their social norms; they think of it as in conformity with their social norms. And in what way are states which had ssm imposed against the popular will indicative of a "tolerant" populace, relative to ones the courts haven't gotten to yet?

Another chosen measure is the ratio of "dry counties". But all that meant where I came from is that the Catholics in the county eventually out-babied the fundie Protestants, and voted out the dry laws. Nobody became "more tolerant", it's just that the people for whom drinking was not a deviance brought the law into conformity with their own mores.

IOW, as one of the commenters to the article noted, the assumption underlying the research is "[s]tates we like have policies we like, and that's why we like them". Or you could put it this way, "states become 'looser' and more 'tolerant' when Californians and Yankess migrate there in high enough numbers to impose their values and punish those who do not conform to those values".

So one gets the ridiculous result that over-regulated and suffocatingly socially conformist places can get graded as "loose" and "tolerant". (In the comments to the article, one notes with amusement how quickly accusations of "racism" show up against dissenters from its conclusions.)

Sam L. said...

Ooooooohhhhhhhh, it just makes them so maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddddddd when those ignorant people refuse to acknowledge how smart the lefties are.

Anonymous said...

'We need a new meme around here. It should look like (S)cience and taste like pageviews.'

'Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey?'

'That's good, Wilkins, I like it. The more I think about it the more I like it.

I want graphs. Our mother wants graphs.'

'Hail Caesar, sir'

'Hail Caesar, comrade.'

-End scene

n.n said...

Bigamy, polygamy, incest, et cetera. Equality!

How loose is loose? Is there selectively loose? Is there circumstantially loose? Is there loose by decree or order? Does the degree of loose reflect negative and positive incentives (e.g. bribes, blackmail, extortion, protection)?

Perhaps there is a better characterization of behavioral consensus than a loose reference to tolerance.

I suggest there are three classes of behavioral enforcement: rejection, tolerance, and normalization. Where each class can objectively be filled based on reconciliation of two orders: natural and conscious, and three principles: individual dignity, intrinsic value, and fitness.

eddie willers said...

The new scientific method:

Start with your conclusion and work your way back.

dwick said...

Rush was right...

It's all about sex. Sex, sex, sex.

n.n said...


Generally, it is instant and immediate gratification without perceived consequences. A common human characteristic which has been exploited to profitable effect.

The Marxist would claim it is religion (i.e. moral philosophy); but, in fact, the opiate of the masses, is dissociation of risk. As with everything, there are side-effects, and the best advice is consumption in moderation.