In Which State Are Residents Most Optimistic?

Ed BurghardWe are a strong, robust, and prosperous nation. Optimism is the essence of our success. It drives our creativity and emboldens our entrepreneurial spirit. It is what makes us invest in the future and accomplish our highest aims.

Bill Frist

By Edward Burghard


The power of the American Dream Composite Index research is found in understanding the 5 sub-indexes and 35 dimensions that comprise the ADCI.

The American Dream Entrepreneurial Spirit dimension measures the level of resident “expectation of good things for oneself in life”.

Bottom 10 Ranked States

Here are the 10 lowest scoring states:

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Iowa
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Maine
  6. Arkansas
  7. Hawaii
  8. Alabama
  9. Vermont
  10. Wyoming

Read the above as residents in these locations have the lowest degree of optimism.

Top 10 Ranked States

On contrast, here are the 10 highest scoring states:

  1. New Mexico
  2. Montana
  3. Delaware
  4. DC
  5. North Dakota
  6. Connecticut
  7. Mississippi
  8. Missouri
  9. Florida
  10. Georgia

Read the above as residents in these locations have the highest degree of optimism.

Optimism Fuels Success

Fast Company published are article entitled “Survival of the Happiest: How Optimism Affects Your Chances of Success”.  The bottom line conclusion was optimistic people had a higher probability of being successful people.  Here are a few of the specific points discussed in the article:

  • Optimism helps people be more resilient in the face of daily challenges.
  • Resiliency is key to successfully leading start-up companies.
  • Optimism and passion are connected.  Combined they lead to setting and achieving higher expectations.
  • Positive people are more fun to work with.

I also found a study conducted by Gallup to be fascinating.  Here is a quote from an article describing the study.

“Optimistic managers are more likely to be engaged managers who are more likely to engage employees; engaged employees, in turn, are more optimistic and productive than disengaged employees, and their increased productivity increases profitability. What’s more, says Greenberg, “Researchers have found that optimistic people are more successful, healthier, and happier” — attributes that can also contribute to organizational productivity and profitability.”

There was actually an academic study done on over-optimism.  The results were reported in a paper entitled “The Bright Side of Managerial Over-optimism”.  One conclusion of the study was that over-optimism actually improves a company’s profitability and market value.  The authors make a point of contrasting over-optimism with overconfidence.

Given the research connecting optimism and business success, it makes sense to try and locate your company in a state where the residents are more optimistic.  The potential operational and personal benefits may provide a competitive advantage.


My take-away from everything I have read to date is – the greater the optimism of the residents in a location, the better the odds you have of hiring an optimistic workforce.  Therefore, to the extent optimism is important to the long-term success of your business, preferentially locating your operations in places where residents are optimistic makes perfect sense.

What Do The Data Tell You?

The ADCI data reflect the sentiment of residents.  If you think about it, these are the people in the best position to assess how easy it is to achieve their American Dream, and as a consequence their perspective is worth paying attention to.  Resident sentiment is measured through a validated questionnaire.  To produce the Report, the data collected from residents in each state throughout calendar 2013 have been compiled to create a 12-month snap shot.  The intent of the Report is to help economic development professionals and elected officials better understand where the state might have opportunities to better enable residents to achieve their American Dream.  This can be done by comparing one state’s dimension scores with other states that might be seen as competitive for capital investment or attraction of top talent.  It is important to note the data inform HOW residents are feeling, but do not explain the sentiment drivers behind WHY they feel that way.  Answering the WHY question requires additional local market research.

How Were The Dimensions Determined?

In general, the Xavier University team did an exhaustive literature review along with both qualitative and quantitative market research to identify an initial list of dimensions that make up the American Dream.  Questions or statements were generated to measure each dimension.  Then two separate large-scale quantitative studies were used to statistically validate and refine the questionnaire.  Finally, three nationally representative samples were used to validate the ADCI, and factor analysis was used to verify that each dimension was sound.  The result of all this work was 35 dimensions that are grouped into five statistically sound and validated sub-indexes.

more complete description of the process is available on the Xavier University website.

What Is Your State’s Ranking?

American Dream Duck Cover

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

1 Comment  |   Forward this to a friend Forward this to a friend   |   Number of emails sent: 545

Category Measures

Bookmark and Share

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

One Response to “In Which State Are Residents Most Optimistic?”

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

By submitting a comment here you grant Strengthening Brand America a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate comments will be removed at admin's discretion.

SBA Blog