MP hits out at report claiming people in Hartlepool have '˜negative' personalities

Hartlepool's MP has hit out at an academic report which claims people in the town have more '˜negative' personality traits.

Thursday, 28th December 2017, 12:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th December 2017, 1:20 pm
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill.
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill.

A research report published by The University of Cambridge, said the study found people in areas historically reliant on coal-based industries have more ‘negative’ personality traits and the problem may well go back to the dawn of the industrial age.

It said people living in the former industrial heartlands of England and Wales are more disposed to negative emotions such as anxiety and depressive moods, more impulsive and more likely to struggle with planning and self-motivation.

Hartlepool Marina looks far from the grim picture created by Cambridge University academics.

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Hartlepool was named in the report as one of the places with the highest proportion of people who suffer from neuroticism.

Dr Jason Rentfrow, from Cambridge’s Department of Psychology, a co-author of the report, said: “Those who live in a post-industrial landscape still do so in the shadow of coal, internally as well as externally.

“The Industrial Revolution has a hidden psychological heritage, one that is imprinted on today’s psychological make-up of the regions of England and Wales.”

However, Mike Hill, MP for Hartlepool, said the people of the town are nothing like what is depicted in the study, which also appeared in an article in The Times newspaper.

Hartlepool Marina looks far from the grim picture created by Cambridge University academics.

He said: “Dr Renfrew’s theory that anxiety, depression, lack of aspiration is typical to communities like Hartlepool historically is flabbergasting and nonsensical, especially when his theory is based on genetically inherited psychological traits from the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th Centuries.

“The ridiculous Dickensian like descriptions of the North used in the report show a true disconnect between the academics and the people in this particular case.

“To attribute current psychological problems of the people of the town to a genetic link to 19th Century workers migrating out of poverty to the nearest industrial place and settling there with only the ambition to survive and not to aspire to anything beyond that is just plain stupid.

“I would just like to echo the opinion of fellow expert in the field Professor Tony Cassidy that it’s far more likely that any psychological malaise amongst Hartlepudlians is far more likely to be linked to the present state of the economy.”

He said the town is suffering from unfair funding, had 2,000 children living in poverty, the second highest unemployment rate in the region and the second lowest life exprectancy in the country.

However, Mr Hill, said: “The reality is that despite all of these challenges Hartlepool people are nothing like those depicted in this particular thesis.

“They are not inherently defeatist, unambitious or naturally ‘grim’ as the Times article puts it.

“Yes like every town in the UK we have our problems. Yes we need more jobs and opportunities for our people, especially the young, but Hartlepool folk are inherently positive, hard working, intelligent and proud.”