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Psychographic Profile: East Coast vs. West Coast Stereotypes

Psychographics include variables related to attitudes, interests, personality characteristics, and values. This article shares insights on East Coast vs West Coast stereotypes.

The stereotypes of East Coasters and West Coasters have been around almost as long as there has been a right and left side of the United States. Folks from the West Coast say East Coasters are uptight, unfriendly, and stressed out. Meanwhile people on the East Coast tend to think of West Coasters as flakey, peaceful, and, maybe, healthier. East Coasters, so the story goes, are more prim, proper, and conservative in their dress—lunch at the country club anyone?—and social attitudes. In stark contrast, West Coasters have a more free-flowing, casual, and hippy-style—don’t forget your Birkenstocks!—and liberal in their beliefs. Really though, is there any merit to these generalizations of the attitudes and behavior of people living on the opposite sides of the country?

When Copernicus compared adults over 18 living on the eastern and western coasts of the country to each other, the firm discovered a variety of attitudinal and behavioral differences that shed some light on the validity of some of the commonly-held perceptions we have of each other.

True to their more serious, line-toting image, folks in the Eastern U.S. more strongly favor a law requiring a permit to purchase a gun (91% East vs. 74% West) and would like to see the government put less money into the space program. Forty-five percent of East Coasters vs. 29% of West Coasters believe the government spends too much money on space exploration. Interestingly, those along the right coast would like to see the government invest more into environmental protection—68% in the East vs. 50% in the West say the government currently spends too little on the environment.

East Coasters are often thought of as more family-oriented and indeed fewer had ever had sex outside their marriage (or at least admitted to it)—14% East vs. 27% West—or ever been divorced or separated—13% East vs. 28% West. Still, a minority (35%) think that getting a divorce should be harder to do compared to a majority (57%) of West Coasters.

With Martha Stewart as an exception, those living along the Atlantic are less likely to have done anything arts-and-crafts-oriented than those living along the Pacific (33% East vs. 50% West). They may not be drawing or painting, but at least they have a slightly better attitude about their jobs—42% of East Coasters complain about the repetitious nature of their job compared to 59% of West Coasters.

Moving across the country now, West Coasters may just live up to their happier image. A majority (64%) of those living in closer proximity to the Pacific say they find life in general pretty darned exciting, contrasted with 43% of those closer to the Atlantic. They even have a more optimistic view of where you go when you die—73% of those on the left coast believe in an afterlife compared to 57% of those along the right.

As you might have expected, West Coasters much more strongly support the legalization of marijuana (52% West vs. 28% East). Many folks living along the western seaboard, however, don’t have as liberal a social attitude when it comes to the family roles of men and women. Over a third (39%) agree that it’s better if dad works while mom stays at home with the kids versus just 20% of East Coasters.

Here are some of the other discriminating characteristics we found:

East Coast vs West Coast survey results

-June 2010

This content was provided by Copernicus Marketing Consulting and Research. Visit their website at

Company profile

Isobar Marketing Intelligence Practice

Isobar Marketing Intelligence Practice

Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
About Isobar Marketing Intelligence Practice:
A Practice area of Isobar operating as a full-service consulting and research firm recognized for our segmentation and emotion measurement approaches.

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