By Bernie and Sand Pilarski
A recent survey by the Cultural Reserves of America Preservation Society focused on the social organization and interaction of the inhabitants of microcosmic neighborhoods in America. The paper based on this survey was presented at the yearly Psychology In Society Studies Conference, to the consternation of attendees.
Residents of 100 randomly chosen micro-neighborhoods (that is, the inhabitants of residences facing the same street for the length of a block) in each of the fifty states of the USA were asked a series of multiple-choice questions about their interaction with their neighbors.
The results ran as follows:
Do you like your residence? A.) I love my house (35%) B.) I like my house's location, but I wish it was bigger (30%) C.) I would like my house better if it were somewhere else (25%) D.) I don't like my house at all (10%)
Do you like your neighbors? A.) My neighbors are like family (5%) B.) I like my neighbors but I wish they would find other friends as well (10%) C.) I like my neighbors as long as they don't talk to me (43%) D.) My neighbors are idiots (42%)
How would you rate your neighbors' interaction with your family? A.) We enjoy seeing them whenever we can (4%) B.) We like seeing them if we have no other pressing commitments (10%) C.) We can get along as long as they mind their own business (67%) D.) We don't go outside if we see them standing around. (19%)
How would you rate your neighbors' interaction with their offspring? A.) They are really well-integrated and supportive of each other (2%) B.) They get along with the occasional obvious quarrel (44%) C.) They are nice separately, but I wouldn't want to be in their shoes (22%) D.) They have not a single clue as to how to relate to each other (32%)
What would be the best description of your neighbors' care of their property? A.) They are contributing to the value of the neighborhood (16%) B.) They are relaxed but can make things look nice when they need to (38%) C.) I wish they would use my lawn and garden service each week (27%) D.) What were they thinking, moving into this neighborhood? (19%)
What would be the best description of your neighbors' personal habits? A.) They are neat, clean, and virtuous. (4%) B.) They have their quirks but we can look the other way (60%) C.) They are screwy as hell but if we can always call the cops if they get out of line (23%) D.) I know they're doing something illegal, but I don't want to get close enough to find out what it is (13%)
With what level of intimacy are you comfortable with your neighbors? A.) We talk and interact daily (8%) B.) If we see each other, we catch up on news (32%) C.) We don't talk much but occasionally we sleep with each other (20%) D.) We do not encourage them with conversation, waves, or eye contact (40%)
If your neighbor was to French kiss someone at the Grammy awards, who would it most likely be? A.) Madonna (5%) B.) George Bush (1%) C.) Barney (82%) D.) Osama Bin Laden (12%)
Who would most likely want to French kiss your neighbor at the Grammy awards? A.) Madonna (0%) B.) George Bush (52%) C.) Barney (25%) D. Osama Bin Laden (23%)
If you had a choice, would you have different persons as neighbors? A.) Yes (85%) B.) No (15%)
A "comments" area was also provided on the survey. 87% of the comments included obscene expletives.
While some of the conference attendees decried the survey to be hopelessly subjective and biased toward negativity, others hailed the survey as a direct indicator of the reasons behind the surging popularity of gated communities and square-feet-per-home-minimum/maximum housing developments. Dr. Max Banoph of NYU commented, "This survey supports studies that suggest that at a very basic level, people have gone from communal interaction as a means of survival to a kind of 'fortress' mentality which finds security and comfort in isolation."
Countering statements by Dr. Alicia Kerasid of the University of Louisiana included, "Rather, it supports research that indicates that people have forgotten how to be good neighbors -- a sign of an ailing society."
Based on the demographics of location, the Cultural Reserves of America Preservation Society ended the presentation with the conclusion that population density affected the results substantially. Overwhelmingly, it was found the less the population density in the micro-neighborhood, the more inclined neighbors were to react positively towards one another, although micro-neighborhoods in towns of less than 15,000 tended to answer "C" in the question about intimacy with neighbors.
Dr. Reynolds Armstrong of Iowa State University, who was on the board which administered the survey, had this to say at the close of the presentation: "While many have criticized this survey, I must say that I found it highly affirming to me that I have the opinion that my nearest neighbors are complete, hopeless idiots, and I'm not alone anymore in wanting to poison my neighbor's dog for crapping on my front lawn."
Originally appeared 2004-03-27.