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Study claims Alabama is one of America’s most ‘uptight’ states, but is it true?

Alabama State Flag (Photo: Raymond M.)
Alabama State Flag (Photo: Raymond M.)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A new study by researchers at the University of Maryland has found that Alabama is the second most “uptight” state in the country, ranking behind only Mississippi.

Predictably, the most “uptight” states tend to be conservative states, while “looser” states are more liberal places like California, Oregon, and Washington.

Here are the 10 most “uptight:”

1. Mississippi
2. Alabama
3. Arkansas
4. Oklahoma
5. Tennessee
6. Texas
7. Louisiana
8. Kentucky
9. South Carolina
10. North Carolina

And the 10 “loosest:”
1. California
2. Oregon
3. Washington
4. Nevada
5. Maine
6. Massachusetts
7. Connecticut
8. Hawaii
9. New Hampshire
10. Vermont

The researchers compiled the rankings by measuring the legality of corporal punishment in schools, the rate of executions from 1976 to 2011, the severity of punishment for violating laws, access to alcohol, the legality of same-sex civil unions, state-level religiosity, and the percentage of total population that is foreign.

Beyond the measured aspects, the report found several correlations between the tightness or looseness of a state and the difficulties it has faced historically, whether natural or manmade.

They found that tighter states tend to have more natural disasters such as tornados and hurricanes, fewer natural resources, and higher rates of disease. The study’s authors posit that those states have a higher need for social cohesion in the face of uncertain danger, also noting that the uptightness in the South may even harken back all the way to the Civil War.

“High degrees of external threat necessitate a greater need for coordination and adherence to norms to produce greater defensive capabilities,” the report reads. “The United States has historically experienced very little external threat on its own soil, with a few localized exceptions (e.g., 9/11, Pearl Harbor). However, the Civil War represented a large threat for the Southern states. Although this was not an international threat per se, it was nevertheless a clear external threat to the South, who stood to lose the source of their economic livelihood (e.g., slavery) and who were “defending their ‘tradition’, ‘heritage’ and ‘way of life.’”

The upside? Uptight states do have a lower circulation of pornographic magazines.

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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015