(Harrisburg) -- A research paper looking at how “tight” or “loose” a state is puts Pennsylvania near the middle. But Messiah College History Professor Jim Legrand says he's not sure whether the authors actually hit on the most pivotal factors.
He agrees there are ties between a state's history and it's overall attitude, but says the paper should focus more on religion as the driving factor.
The research from two psychologists at the University of Maryland finds many of states in the South are what they call “tight”, meaning they have strongly enforced laws or rules and little tolerance for deviance, while New England and the West Coast are home to “loose” states, considered less strict.
Despite his criticism, Legrand says he does see some truth in the work.
"Certainly Pennsylvania has both today and historically, all sorts of pockets of places that I suppose we could say are somewhat traditional socially, culturally and religiously."
Legrand says the Catholic Church has influence, especially in the western part of the state, which may make it more tight than other regions in Pennsylvania.
He adds the diversity in political thinking across the commonwealth essentially molds together to make the state as a whole somewhere between tight and loose.
"Pennsylvania at least for a while, and maybe in the future again, being a toss up state. As important as social and cultural issues are in our public life, political life, Pennsylvania I think on the whole has been sort of a state in the balance there, and I think that's one of the things they're revealing here," says Legrand.
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