Urban psychology and British cities: Do personality traits matter for resilience to recessions?

Harry Garretsen, Janka I. Stoker, Dimitrios Soudis, Ron Martin, Jason Rentfrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


There has been much recent interest in the ‘resilience’ of cities (and regions) to shocks of various kinds. Studies have found, for example, that cities (and regions) appear to have different degrees of resistance to and recoverability from economic shocks, such as major recessions.1–3 In this paper we explore whether and to what extent the clustered personality traits of a city’s population, as measured by the so-called ‘Big Five’ traits, might be relevant to explaining these differences. The paper utilises the personality scores of more than 400,000 UK residents across some 63 cities to examine how far variations in these scores help to account for differences in how those cities have reacted to major recessions. We find that for the three recessionary shocks in our sample period, the trait openness (to experience) has a strong significant relationship with city resilience. Cities with a higher degree of openness to experience turn out to be more resilient to UK-wide recessionary shocks. These results also hold when account is taken for the age and location of birth of a city’s residents. We also briefly discuss potential policy implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-307
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1-Jan-2020


  • Big Five
  • UK cities
  • personality traits
  • psychology
  • recessions
  • regions
  • resilience

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