Guess Where America's Most Sanctimonious People Live

Guess which states are the most inclined to rigid socially enforced morality. Just guess. You'll probably get it right, you smug coastal latte sipping marriage-threatening organic composting religion ignoring bike riding "I'm Okay, You're Okay" hippie elites.

Researchers attempting to explore the political gap between red and blue states have uncovered a factor that they say might explain the nation's current divide: tightness, which is actually a less judgmental way to describe what less generous people might refer to as "sanctimony" or "pearl clutchery." The Fun Police, if you will. Or, if we're speaking Muppet, think of these states as the Berts.

The top ten most "tight" states, predictably, also tend vote conservative — Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and both Carolinas. Conversely, the loosest (in Muppet: "Ernie-est") states tend to enjoy corresponding loosey goosey political reputations. That list includes California, Maine, Vermont, Oregon, Hawaii, Washington, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

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According to Mother Jones, researchers from the University of Maryland judged a state's "tightness" and "looseness" on a variety of factors — "legality of corporal punishment in schools, the general severity of legal sentences, access to alcohol and availability of civil unions, level of religiosity, and the percent of the population that is foreign" among them — and then analyzed their findings in the context of a state's historical struggle with natural disasters and disease. The found that in most cases, "tightness" seemed a response to years or generations of being the target of perceived or real threats, but that the resulting efforts don't necessarily promote the well-being of residents.

Researchers found that residents of "tight" states — places that "have many strongly enforced rules and little tolerance for deviance" — tend to be less happy than their loose counterparts. I guess restricting abortion and fighting gay marriage at every turn isn't the ticket to happiness, after all.