You may not know anyone from Keota, Iowa, but they would sure like to meet you.
At least, that’s according to a new study conducted by a Seattle-based marketing research firm called Pyco Inc., which has recently anointed Keota the most extroverted city in America. 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.
“A lot of people laughed,” Keota-resident Paula Greiner told eastern Iowa’s The Gazette. “We wondered how they came up with it.”
“Did they drive down the street and see how many people were sitting on the porch and how many waved?” Kim Cansler asked the Des Moines Register.
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.
“[People in smaller towns] interact with people in the same networks a lot and they know a lot about the people,” Leicht said. “And so, to a substantial extent, they can interact in ways where their social guard is down.”
Pyco’s algorithm found that only about 57 percent of New York City adults are extroverts.
A city was required to have 1,000 people in order to be considered for Pyco’s rankings.