The study, by Markus Jokela and Liisa Keltikangas-Jarvinen from the University of Helsinki from the National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health and Mika Kivimaki of University College London, was aimed to know if certain personality traits would influence migration patterns more so than others.
For the research, the psychologists randomly selected participants from a population-based health study in Finland and studied data which spanned over nine years and included information relating to personality (via self-assessment questionnaires) and a variety of demographic information (including where participants had lived over the nine year period).
They based their study on three personality traits (or temperaments): sociability (people with high sociability prefer the company of others to being alone), emotionality (increased emotionality indicates a tendency to experience negative emotions, especially fear and anger) and activity (high activity is characterized by being very active, energetic and also restless).
The findings of the study indicated that personality traits determine not only where people relocate to, but also how often they move and how far away they move.
It was found that people with a very active personality have a tendency to migrate, to both urban and rural locales. People who are very emotional are more likely to move away from home, but do not migrate very far and do not move very often. Emotional people tend to migrate equally to both urban and rural locations. People with very social personalities are more inclined to leave rural settings for urban areas and are more likely to migrate over long distances.
According to the authors, since urban areas are densely populated, they appeal to people with high sociability traits-urban areas offer plenty of opportunities for social interaction.
While very emotional people have a tendency to move away from home, the fact that they do not move often or selectively to urban locations indicates that people with this personality trait move simply because they are not content where they are. Besides, very emotional people were found to migrate over shorter distances.
Emotional people may prefer shorter moves because they are less stressful compared to long distance moves and that "emotionality appears to have a dual role in migration by increasing migration probability but decreasing migration distance," said the authors.
The study has implications for urban planners, neighbourhood developers and also the real estate market.
A better understanding of the types of personalities a certain place attracts may improve the way housing and jobs there are marketed, as well as the types of stores that are brought into that area. Also, personality based migration may have long term consequences for a particular location.
"Temperament-related self-selection may also modify population structures, and in the long run, genetic variation underlying temperament differences may become differentially distributed across geographic regions," concluded the authors.
The study was reported in the latest issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.