Residents of Rhode Island, North Carolina, Illinois and California — good job. People of Alabama, Kentucky, Idaho and Pennsylvania — well, you’ve got some work to do.
At least, that’s what the results of a recent study by researchers trying to identify the most and least empathetic states in the U.S. says.
Five academics from Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana and Rochester surveyed nearly 80,000 Americans from every state and Washington D.C., reading them seven statements and asking them to judge how much they agreed with the, per Pacific Standard. The statements were aimed at rating people’s empathy, or their ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. The results were published in the Journal of Research in Personality.
The top nine most empathetic states are, in order, Rhode Island, Montana, Vermont, Maine, Oregon, Illinois, North Carolina, Utah, and California. Washington D.C., though technically not a state, tied for fifth with Oregon.
The 10 least empathetic are Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana, Kansas, and Idaho (tied with Kansas), Iowa, Alaska, and Pennsylvania.
However, before residents of the top 10 get too pleased with themselves, the researchers were quick to note that they did not seek scientific representation of each state. Besides, they also noted that, “those living in more charitable areas may have become more empathetic after witnessing the generous behavior in that area.” In other words, empathy builds off empathy.
Still, the researchers did note that the states with higher rates of empathy were more likely to have lower violent crime rates and increased rates of volunteering and happiness.
The results of the survey differed slightly from Conde Nast’s ranking of the friendliest cities in America in 2015 but had some areas of agreement. In Conde Nast’s ratings, Park City, Utah, Asheville, North Carolina, and Burlington, Vermont, were all rated as some of the friendliest cities in the country, coinciding with their states’ high rankings. Baltimore, Wilmington, Delaware and Dover, Delaware, were all rated among the unfriendliest.
In what might be a surprise to some, the New England region had the most empathetic states, with three in the top 10, despite having a reputation for being more than a little frosty. Meanwhile, the South, generally considered a warm, friendly region, had just one of the most empathetic states and four of the least empathetic, according to U.S. Census divisions.
Another study published in October rated the most empathetic countries in the world, with the United States coming in at a respectable seventh place, per Science Alert.