Finding the most extroverted town in America in Iowa

A “marketing research firm” recently named Keota, Iowa as the most extroverted town in America. How exactly does a researcher determine the most extroverted town?

Pyco, which claims to specialize in “psychological profiling,” ranked 61.639 percent of adults in Keota (pop. 1,009, according to the 2010 census)  as extroverts — just beating Manchester, N.Y.’s 60.570 percent for the title of most outgoing. Yet despite this designation, locals are reportedly confused as to how they ranked so high…

In fact, nobody outside Pyco quite understands the methodology for the rankings. According to the Register, the firm collected data in part from other research firms, and processed the numbers with a proprietary 2,000 page algorithm. Keith Streckenbach, the company’s chief operating officer, could not specify which factors most affected whether a person was deemed extroverted.

Keota’s designation has led to a series of stories in Iowa media examining the honor. One piece on the blog Eastern Iowa News Now interviewed Kevin Leicht, the chairman of the University of Iowa’s Sociology Department, and found that extroversion may be a trait inherent to small towns…

Pyco’s algorithm found that only about 57 percent of New York City adults are extroverts.

Several questions follow:

1. I would be really curious to know how this proprietary data was collected. Is it culled from the Internet? Could it be partially determined by the number of local businesses or “third places” (found in the Yellow Pages or some other kind of community listings)?

2. The differences between Keota and New York City are not huge: 61.6% to 57%. If you factor in the margin of error from these estimates (possibly fairly large since how many data points could there be in each town of more than 1,00 people across the US?), these figures may be close to the same. It would be worthwhile to see how broad the range of data for communities really is: are there towns in the US where less than 40% of people are extroverts?

3. Would we expect an extroverted community to know they are more extroverted than another community? Put another way, are extroverts more self-aware of their extroversion or are introverts the ones that are more likely to be aware of these things?

4. Since this data was collected by a marketing firm, I assume they would want to sell this information to companies and other organizations. So if Keota is the most extroverted town, will residents now see different kinds of promotional campaigns in the near future?

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