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Department of Psychology


My research examines the links between basic psychological characteristics and common social psychological processes. To understand such links, I adopt an interactionist perspective that focuses on person-environment interactions and social perception. In this work, I have examined how personality is expressed in a variety of domains (e.g., music preferences, movie preferences, political ideology, geographic regions), and how impressions of others are formed on the basis of such information.


Key publications: 

Selected publications from 2010 onwards:


In press:


Garretsen, H., Stoker, J. I., Soudis, D., Martin, R., & Rentfrow, P. J. (in press). The Relevance of Personality Traits for Economic Geography: Making Space for Psychological Factors. Journal of Economic Geography.


Götz, F., Ebert, T., & Rentfrow, P. J. (in press). Regional cultures and the psychological geography of Switzerland: Person–environment–fit in personality predicts subjective wellbeing over time. Frontiers.


Mellander, C., Florida, R., Rentfrow, P. J., & Potter, J. (in press). The geography of music preferences. Journal of Cultural Economics.


Nave, G., Minxha, J., Greenberg, D., Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D., & Rentfrow (in press). Musical preferences predict personality: Evidence from active listening and Facebook likes. Submitted to Psychological Science.


Obschonka, M., Stuetzer, M., Rentfrow, P. J., Lee, N., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (in press). Fear, populism, and the geopolitical landscape: On the effect of neurotic personality traits on regional voting behavior in the 2016 Brexit and Trump votes. Social Psychological and Personality Science.


Obschonka, M., Stuetzer, M., Rentfrow, P. J., Shaw-Taylor, L., Satchell, M., Silbereisen, R. K., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (in press). In the shadow of coal: How large-scale industries contributed to regional personality and well-being differences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


Rentfrow, P. J. (in press). Personality and geography. In B. J. Carducci (Editor-in-Chief) & J. S. Mio & R. E. Riggio (Vol. Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell encyclopedia of personality and individual differences: Vol. IV. Clinical, applied, and cross-cultural research. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.


Rentfrow, P. J. & Gosling, S. D. (in press). Putting personality in its place: A geographical perspective on the distribution and expression of personality traits. In O. P. John and R. Robins, (Eds.) Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research. New York: Guilford Press


Rentfrow, P. J., & Greenberg, D. (in press). The social and personality psychology of music. In P. J. Rentfrow and D. J. Levitin (Eds.) Foundations of Music Psychology: Theory and Research. Cambridge: MIT Press.


Rentfrow, P. J., & Jokela, M. (in press). Regional variation in personality. In S. Kitayama and D. Cohen, (Eds.) Handbook of Cultural Psychology. New York: Guilford Press.


Zmigrod, L., Rentfrow, P. J., & Robbins, T. W. (in press). The Cognitive and Psychological Underpinnings of Nationalistic Identity: The Case of Brexit. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.




Fritsch, M., Obschonka, M., Wyrwich, M., Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Potter, J. (2018). Regionale Unterschiede der Verteilung von Personen mit unternehmerischem Persönlichkeitsprofil in Deutschland – ein Überblick. Raumforschung und Raumordnung | Spatial Research and Planning. . 10.1007/s13147-018-0519-2.


Garretsen, H., Stoker, J. I., Soudis, D., Martin, R., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2018). Brexit and the Relevance of Regional Personality Traits: More Psychological Openness Could Have Swung the Vote. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11, 165-175.


Obschonka, M., Stuetzer, M., Rentfrow, P. J., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (2017). Did Strategic Bombing in the Second World War lead to “German Angst”: A large-scale empirical test across 89 German cities. European Journal of Personality, 31, 234-257.


Rentfrow, P. J. (2018). Geographical variation in subjective well-being. In E. Diener, S. Oishi, & L. Tay (Eds.), Handbook of well-being. Salt Lake City, UT: DEF Publishers.




Gebauer, J., Sedikides, C., Schönbrodt, F., Bleidorn, W., Rentfrow, P. J., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (2017). Religiosity as social value hypothesis: A replication and extension. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113, e18-e39.


Greenberg, D. M. & Rentfrow, P. J. (2017). Music and big data: a new frontier. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 18, 50-56.


Greenberg, D. M. & Rentfrow, P. J. (2017). The social psychological underpinnings of musical identities: A study on how personality stereotypes are formed from musical cues. In R. MacDonald, D. Miell, & D. Hargreaves (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Musical Identities. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Harari, G. M., Müller, S. R., Aung, H., Rentfrow, J. P. (2017). Smartphone Sensing Methods for Studying Behavior in Everyday Life. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 18, 83-90.


Harari, G. M., Müller, S. R., Mishra, V., Wang, R., Campbell, A. T., Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S.D. (2017). Students’ Interest in and Compliance with Self-Tracking Methods: Recommendations for Incentives Based on Three Smartphone Sensing Studies. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8, 479-492.


Lathia, N., Sandstrom, G., Mascolo, C., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2017). Happy people have active lives: Sensing happiness using smartphone accelerometers. PLOS ONE.


Müller, S. R., Harari, G. M., Mehrotra, A., Matz, S., Khambatta, P., Musolesi, M., Mascolo, C., Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, J. P. (2017). Using Human Raters to Characterize the Psychological Characteristics of GPS-based Places. In Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Multimedia, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT).


Rentfrow, P. J., & Jokela, M. (2017). Geographical variation in personality across regions of North America and Great Britain. In T. Church, (Ed.) Personality Across Cultures. New York: Praeger.


Sandstrom, G., Lathia, N., Mascolo, C., & Rentfrow, P. J., (2017). Putting mood in context: Using smartphones to examine how people feel in different locations. Journal of Research in Psychology, 69, 96-101.


Servia-Rodríguez, S., Rachuri, K. K., Mascolo, C., Rentfrow, P. J., Lathia, N., Sandstrom, G. M., (2017). Mobile sensing at the service of mental well-being: a large-scale longitudinal study. In Proceedings of 26th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2017). Computational Health Track. Perth, Australia.


Sharp, C. A., Rentfrow, P. J., & Gibson, N. J. S. (2017). One God but Three Concepts: Complexity in Christians’ Representations of God. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 9, 95-105.


Stuetzer, M., Audretsch, D. B., Obschonka, M., Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Potter, J. (2017). Entrepreneurship culture, knowledge spillovers and the growth of regions, Regional Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2017.1294251


Van Zalk, N., Lamb, M. E., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2017). Does shyness vary according to attained social roles? Trends across age groups in a large British sample. Journal of Personality, 85, 830-840.


Wei, W., Lu, J. G., Galinsky, A. D., Wu, H., Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J. et al., (2017). Regional ambient temperature is associated with human personality. Nature Human Behavior, 1, 890-895.




Bleidorn, W., Arslan, R. C., Denissen, J. J. A., Rentfrow, P. J., Gebauer, J. E., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (2016). Age and gender differences in self-esteem: A cross-cultural window. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111, 396-410.


Bleidorn, W., Schönbrodt, F., Gebauer, J. E., Rentfrow, P. J., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (2016). To live among like-minded others: Exploring the links between personality-city fit and self-esteem. Psychological Science, 27, 419-427.


De Vries, R. & Rentfrow, P. J., (2016). A winning personality: The effects of background on personality and earnings. Paper commissioned by the Sutton Trust.



Greenberg, D. M., Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D. J., Monteiro, B. L., Levitin, D. J, & Rentfrow, P. J. (2016). The song is you: Preferences for musical attribute dimensions reflect personality. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 597-605.


Obschonka, M. Stuetzer, M., Audretsch, D. B., Rentfrow, P. J., Potter, J. & Gosling, S. D., (2016). Macro-psychological factors predict regional economic resilience during a major economic crisis. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 95-104.


Rentfrow, P. J., & Jokela, M. (2016). Geographical psychology: The spatial organization of psychological phenomena. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25, 393-398.


Sandstrom, G., Lathia, N., Mascolo, C., & Rentfrow, P. J., (2016). Opportunities for Smartphones in Clinical Care: The Future of Mobile Mood Monitoring. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 77, 135-137.


Stuetzer, M., Obschonka, M., Audretsch, D. B., Wyrwich, M., Rentfrow, P. J., Coombes, M., Shaw-Taylor, L., Satchell, M. (2016). Industry structure, entrepreneurship, and culture: An instrumental variable analysis using historical coal mining in Great Britain. European Economic Review, 86, 52-72.


Vande Kerckhove, C., Martin, S., Gend, P., Rentfrow, P.J., Hendrickx J.M., et al. (2016) Modelling influence and opinion evolution in online collective behaviour. PLOS ONE 11(6): e0157685. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157685




Gebauer, J., Sedikides, C., Wagner, J., Bleidorn, W., Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Potter, J. (2015). Cultural Norm-Fulfillment, Interpersonal-Belonging, or Getting-Ahead? A Large-Scale Cross-Cultural Test of Three Perspectives on the Function of Self-Esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109, 526-548.


Greenberg, D. M., Baron-Cohen, S., Stillwell, D. J., Stillwell, D. J., Kosinski, M., & Rentfrow, P. J., (2015). Musical preferences are linked to cognitive styles. PLoS ONE, 10(7): e0131151. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131151


Greenberg, D. M., Müllensiefen, D., Lamb, M. E., & Rentfrow, P., J., (2015). Personality predicts musical sophistication. Journal of Research in Personality, 58, 154-158.


Greenberg, D. M., Rentfrow, P. J., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2015). Can music increase empathy? Interpreting musical experience through the empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory: Implications for autism. Empirical Musicology Review, 10, 79-94.


Jokela, M., Bleidorn, W., Lamb, M. E., Gosling, S. D., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2015). Geographically varying associations between personality and life satisfaction in the London metropolitan area. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 725-730.


Martin, S., Vande Kerckhove, C. Gend, P., Rentfrow, P. J., Hendrickx, J. M., & Blondel, V. D. (2015). Modeling influence and opinion evolution in online collective behavior. In Proceedings of International Conference on Computational Social Science (IC2S2). Helsinki, Finland.


Obschonka M, Stuetzer M, Gosling SD, Rentfrow PJ, Lamb ME, Potter J, et al. (2015) Entrepreneurial Regions: Do Macro-Psychological Cultural Characteristics of Regions Help Solve the “Knowledge Paradox” of Economics? PLoS ONE 10(6): e0129332. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129332


Rentfrow, P. J. (2015). Do you hear what I hear? Music cognition, preference and identity. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.) Investigating psychology 2: From biological to developmental (pp. 1-38). Milton Keynes: Open University Press.


Rentfrow P.J., Jokela M., & Lamb, M.E. (2015). Regional Personality Differences in Great Britain. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0122245.



Winstanley, A., Lamb, M. E., Ellis-Davies, K., Rentfrow, P. J. (2015). The subjective well-being of adults born preterm. Journal of Research in Personality, 59, 23-30.




Atherton, O. E., Robins, R. W., Rentfrow, P. J., & Lamb, M. E. (2014). Personality correlates of risky health outcomes: Findings from a large internet study. Journal of Research in Personality, 50, 56-60. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2014.03.002


Bleidorn, W., Klimstra, T. A., Denissen, J. J. A., Rentfrow, P. J., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2014). Let the Data Speak – A Response to Terracciano. Psychological Science, 25, 1051-1053.


Gebauer, J. E., Bleidorn, W., Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., Lamb, M. E., & Potter, J. (2014). Cross-cultural variations in Big Five relationships with religiosity: A socio-cultural motives perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 1064-1091. doi: 10.1037/a0037683


Obschonka, M., Stuetzer, M., Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J. & Potter, J. (2014). The great recession of 2008-2009 and regional

entrepreneurship: Identifying cultural resilience factors (summary). Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, 34, 11.


Rachuri, K. K., Efstratiou, C., Leontiadis, I., Mascolo, C., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2014). Smartphone sensing offloading for efficiently supporting social sensing applications. Pervasive and Mobile Computing, 10, 3-21.




Bleidorn, W., Klimstra, T. A., Denissen, J. J. A., Rentfrow, P. J., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2013). Personality maturation around the world: A cross-cultural examination of social investment theory. Psychological Science, 24, 2530-2540.


Bonneville-Roussy, A., Rentfrow, P. J., Xu, M. K., & Potter, J. (2013). Music through the ages: Trends in musical attitudes and preferences from adolescence through middle adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 703-717.


Chung, C. K., Rentfrow, P. J., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2013). Finding values in words: Regional variations in personal concerns. In P. J. Rentfrow (Ed.) Geographical psychology: Exploring the interaction of environment and behavior (pp. 195-215). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


Florida, R., Mellander, C., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2013). The happiness of cities. Regional Studies, 47, 613-627.


Lathia, N. Pejovic, V., Rachuri, K. K., Mascolo, C., Musolesi, M., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2013). Smartphones for large-scale behavior change interventions. IEEE Pervasive Computing: Mobile and Ubiquitous Systems, 12, 66-73.


Lathia, N., Rachuri, K. K., Mascolo, C., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2013). Contextual dissonance: Design bias in sensor-based experience sampling methods. In Proceedings of 15th ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp'13). Zurich, Switzerland. September 2013.


Rachuri, K. K., Efstratiou, C., Leontiadis, I., Mascolo, C., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2013). METIS: Exploring mobile phone sensing offloading for efficiently supporting social sensing applications. In Proceedings of 11th IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (Percom 2013). San Diego. CA, USA.


Rentfrow, P. J. (2013). Geographical differences in personality. In P. J. Rentfrow (Ed.) Geographical psychology: Exploring the interaction of environment and behavior (pp. 115-137). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


Rentfrow, P. J., Gosling, S. D., Jokela, M., Stillwell, D. J., Kosinski, M., & Potter, J. (2013). Divided we stand: Three psychological regions of the United States and their political, economic, social, and health correlates. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 996-1012.



Whitelock, C. F, Lamb, M. E., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2013). Overcoming trauma: Psychological and demographic characteristics of child sexual abuse survivors in adulthood. Clinical Psychological Science, 1, 351-362.




Mellander, C. Florida, R., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2012). Socioeconomic structures and happiness. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 5, 31-43.


Rentfrow, P. J. (2012). The role of music in everyday life: Current directions in the social psychology of music. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6/5, 402-416.


Rentfrow, P. J., Goldberg, L. R., Stillwell, D. J., Kosinski, M., Gosling, S. D., and Levitin, D. L. (2012). The song remains the same: A replication and extension of the MUSIC model. Music Perception, 30, 161-185.




Florida, R. & Rentfrow, P. J. (2011). Place and well-being. In K. Sheldon, T. Kashdan, and M. Steger (Eds.) Designing the future of positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward (pp. 385-395). New York: Oxford University Press.


Rachuri, K. K., Mascolo, C., Musolesi, M., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2011). SociableSense: Exploring the trade-offs of adaptive sampling and computation offloading for social sensing. In Proceedings of The 17th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom 2011), Las Vegas, USA.


Rentfrow, P. J. (2011). The open city. In A. E. Andersson, D. Andersson, and C. Mellander (Eds.). Handbook of cities and creativity (pp. 117-127). London: Elgar.


Rentfrow, P. J., Goldberg, L. R., & Levitin, D. J. (2011). The structure of musical preferences: A five-factor model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 1139-1157.


Rentfrow, P. J., Goldberg, L. R., & Zilca, R. (2011). Listening, watching, and reading: The structure and correlates of entertainment preferences. Journal of Personality, 79, 223-257.


Rentfrow, P. J. & McDonald, J. A. (2011). The big five personality dimensions. In L. Martin and T. Cascio (Eds.) House and Psychology (pp. 253-268). New York: Wiley.




Rachuri, K. K., Musolesi, M., Mascolo, C., Rentfrow, P. J., Longworth, C., & Aucinas, A. (2010). EmotionSense: A mobile phone based adaptive platform for experimental social psychology research. In Proceedings of 12th ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp'10). Copenhagen, Denmark. September 2010.


Rentfrow, P. J. (2010). Statewide differences in personality: Toward a psychological geography of the United States. American Psychologist, 65, 548-558.


Professor of Personality & Individual Differences
Director of Studies in PBS, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
Director of Graduate Education
Professor Rentfrow photo

Contact Details

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 (7)67805
Takes PhD students
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