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Minnesota nice is the stereotypical behavior of people born and raised in Minnesota to be courteous, reserved, and mild-mannered. The cultural characteristics of Minnesota nice include a polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation. It can also refer to traffic behavior, such as slowing down to allow another driver to enter a lane in front of the other person. Critics have pointed out negative qualities, such as passive aggressiveness and resistance to change.
Playwright and corporate communications consultant Syl Jones suggested that Minnesota nice is not entirely about being "nice" but is more about keeping up appearances, maintaining the social order, and keeping people in their place. He relates these social norms to the literary work of Danish-Norwegian novelist Aksel Sandemose, Jante Law, and more generally, Scandinavian culture. Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion discusses "Wobegonics", the supposed language of Minnesotans which includes "no confrontational verbs or statements of strong personal preference".
The generosity of state citizens has gained respect; the heavily-reported influenza vaccine shortage of fall 2004 did not strike the state as hard as elsewhere since many people willingly gave up injections for others. The concept has also received some support from the academic community; a national study by Peter Rentfrow, Samuel Gosling, and Jeff Potter done in 2008 found that Minnesota was the second most agreeable and fifth most extraverted state in the nation, traits associated with "nice".
- Atkins, Annette (2008). Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out. Minnesota Historical Society. pp. 242, 243, 248. ISBN 0-87351-633-8.
- Jones, Syl (December 14, 2009). "The unwritten rules that tell Minnesotans how to be nice". Saint Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved December 14, 2009.
- "Wobegonics" on A Prairie Home Companion, Saturday, April 19, 1997 Retrieved December 14, 2009.
- New York Times. "In Minnesota, Flu Vaccines Go Waiting". 12 November 2004
- Rentfrow, Peter J.; Gosling, Samuel D.; Potter, Jeff (September 2008). "A Theory of the Emergence, Persistence, and Expression of Geographic Variation in Psychological Characteristics". Perspectives on Psychological Science 3 (5): 339–369. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6924.2008.00084.x. Retrieved 22 January 2015.