Minnesota Nice: The Altruism State

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As has been noted in past Psych 1001 blogs, "Minnesota nice" (a form of altruism) is a very real phenomenon. I myself have experienced multiple instances of people helping others for seemingly totally unselfish reasons. This past summer, my boyfriend and I were trying to pick up a friend from a concert in downtown Minneapolis at a very late hour. We hit an incredibly large pothole and blew out the front right tire of my car. The car was undriveable and so we were forced to pull over onto the side of a very busy street where parking was not permitted. I didn't know what to do. No towing company would be open this late and both my boyfriend and I had no idea how to fix the tire ourselves. We had not even gotten out of the car yet when 2 young men came up to us and asked if we needed some help. They immediately asked me to pop my trunk and they proceeded to find a tire that I had no idea was even there. They spent about an hour putting a new wheel on my car and chatting amiably with us. When they were done, they refused the money we offered them and told us that we could repay them by doing something like this for someone else in their time of need. This is a great example of altruism. If everyone had more empathy for those around them, the world would be a much better place. If everyone partook in it, altruism would turn into a common proWhat-Makes-Us-Altruistic-2.jpgsocial norm.


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I grew up in Minnesota and have seen this all my life. My parents told me how they would get some people together, take their jeep and bring a rope and shovels with them and just drive around after heavy snowfalls so they could help people. They would like make a day of it and I've always wanted to do this myself. I have parked and help someone get their car unstuck before and have also gotten help from random people multiple times when I was stuck in the snow. I see it happen everywhere though people just generally seem really helpful in Minnesota in situations like these.

I totally agree with you about "Minnesota Nice". Maybe I am just biased growing up in Minnesota, but from my experiences traveling around to other states I still believe it. From what I have notices, people in other states tend to be more self-absorbed than people in Minnesota. The Today Show even did a news report about it, validating the belief that Minnesotans tend to be nicer than people in other states. What they did on the Today Show was go to several different malls throughout the U.S. and have someone pretend that their bag broke and all their items fell out of the bag. What the Today Show found was that people at the Mall of America were far more likely to help pick up the stuff that fell on the floor than were people from other malls in other states. In line with the Today Show's research, I wholeheartedly believe "Minnesota nice" is far more than just a saying.

I was born in California, so I go back to visit my family atleast once a year. It always amazes me to see the difference in attitudes and behaviors between Minnesotans and Californians. Although Californians are certainly nice people, they seem to be more closed off than Minnesotans. It's always nice to return home to "Minnesota Nice" after a trip to California.

Your story reminds me so much of the movie Pay it Forward. The concept of the movie centered around the little boy's idea that if he did something helpful, nice, and unselfish for three people and asked those people to reach out to three more people (and so on) that he could make a true, positive influence on his community. This concept is important to remember for everyday life. It is sometimes more important to do something totally unselfish for others to hopefully inspire someone else to spread the love as well.

I do believe in Minnesota Nice, but I think the stereotype should be given to the whole Midwest. I never really thought of the saying being altruistic before. Even more, I never really thought of people as doing things for completely unselfish reasons. Even after learning more I still assume people are doing it for some reason, whether it is to have a positive image or to uphold a stereotype such as Minnesota Nice. Your example, however, is a perfect of someone doing something for an unselfish reason.

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This page contains a single entry by krzma022 published on April 22, 2012 3:46 PM.

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