BOSTON (CBS) – Is Boston the meanest city in the U.S.?

Two University of Michigan psychologists created a number categories to measure niceness and did a national survey. Out of 50 major cities, Boston came in dead last in being friendly and nice.

People around Boston do not think of themselves as being mean. Far from it:

“I don’t think we’re the meanest city. I think we’re the best city,” said one man, who theorized that the rest of America is jealous.

Perhaps that’s true. The survey was answered by people around the country who may or may not have been jealous of Boston.

Locals admit, though, that we are a unique city.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mark Katic reports.

“Like wine and cheese, we get better with age,” said another man.

Comments (69)
  1. Ellen says:

    My mother was from Chelsea and my father from Revere and always told us not to talk to strangers, talk only when spoken to, and never, never go up to someone you don’t know. My cousin who now lives in Georgia said that it’s the complete opposite there. Everyone talks to anyone, and it’s not unusual for someone to come up to you and start a conversation. Guess it must be a Boston thing, but hey I like it here more so then any where else.

    1. jill b says:

      I have lived here for fouteen years I cam from Chicago which is a much
      larger city and find Boston very unfriendly and it took along time to
      establish friendhshipc compared to out west

    2. Bostonian Girl says:

      I live in the suburbs of Boston and I get what people say. It’s not Georgia where all the southerners hug random strangers, but people are caring. My friend with autism was walking down the street and a young man came up to her and told her she was beautiful. The smile on her face was so big I smiled too. So, Boston is just as wholesome a city as any.

  2. Vera Carroll says:

    @Ellen – there is nothing like Southern Hospitality! I have lived in MA all my life and I wonder why I am still here. I find most people in my area to be self-centered, obnoxious and rude, but it wasn’t that way growing up as a kid. Times have changed, but not always for the better.

  3. Laur says:

    I grew up here, lived in San Diego for many years, and have to say we are pretty unfriendly here. People in San Diego may be artificial in some ways, but I always remember being out walking and how friendly everyone was….smile and say hello. I find when you do that here, people almost look at you like “huh”. I do find a lot of people rude around here. I understand don’t talk to strangers to a point, but a nice smile and a hello can go a long way! My biggest amazement is those who work in customer service and are unfriendly….hello pick another job.

    1. some shmoe says:

      It’s a viscous cycle. Because everyone is unfriendly, people ruin other people’s days. Everyone in Mass is pretty much angry at the world. So nobody’s every happy. ESPECIALLY those who handle customer service, as they get the worst of the worst.

  4. Piratejohncool says:

    This survey is almost a year old and it didn’t “meanness” but strengths of the head and strengths of the heart. Boston ranked last when answering questions that attempted to measure compassion and gratitude.

  5. butters says:

    Its true mass people are rude and unfriendly

  6. Alli says:

    People in massachusetts all together are mean,Lived here my whole life and have always been kind to others, holding doors, please and thank you etc. i see other mass residents become more and more rude every day. Inconsiderate no mannered people who drive awful. “times are tough” most people tell me when i discuss this with others. Its no reason to treat eachother like poo. Have been considering myself on moving to a new place before i lose faith the human race.

    1. some shmoe says:

      I agree with this entirely.

    2. Iliana says:

      Ha! I moved to Naples FL from Cape Cod, you want unfriendly! The cold here beats any Boston winter day!

  7. Cinque says:

    Just remember that a friend in need is a friend to be avoided.

    1. Cynic says:

      I heard it another way…”A Friend in need is a pain in the A**”

  8. Terry says:

    I have lived in cities located on the East and West coasts. Boston is far and away the most arrogant and unfriendly city I’ve experienced. Bostonians feel entitled to what they perceive as the city’s positives and often treat newcomers as unwelcome interlopers. Few will extend a helping hand or even simply wave to newcomers.
    I agree with the unspoken city motto, leave Boston to established Bostonians. They deserve each other.

  9. taxedout says:

    Boston…NO WAY….Also the Dumbest!!!!! Good luck on your next parking speeding ticket for 50 bucks, you’ll need 245 just to get a chance to plead your case!!!!! Stupid

  10. emom says:

    I lived in Boston for over 16 years, Our neighbors where great, always looking out for each other, But that was a very long time ago… It has changed over the last 3 decades,,, Even in the suburbs your neighbors are either none existing or so nosy that you avoid them all together. Times have seriously changed, It’s so sad to see the lack of care in folks. Besides being RUDE, uncaring, selfish lets add in Expensive , full of TAXES and IN A HURRY.. Slow down once in a while, It seems we are to BUSY for much any more, even KINDNESS………

  11. Gordon Isaac Friedman says:

    I’ve lived in Boston for about seven years. People tell me to shoot myself in the head, kill myself, etc. You get used to it. It actually makes leaving the city a pleasant surprise. It’s like a breath of fresh air going anywhere outside the city.

  12. Boston Ucan Haveit says:

    What a surprise! The funniest thing about this survey is that why is it that this city has not been labeled every year as the unfriendliest us city? What do you expect from a city dominated by racist Irish and arrogant Europeans?

    1. jaygee says:

      “Racist Irish & arrogant Europeans”, huh? Where did you drop from the womb, amigo? There are many “friendly” cities that remain that way as long as you attend chuch every Sunday and other “Friendly” cities that accept everyone as equal as long as you are white & Protestant. At least in Boston, one doesn’t have to play games and put on the faux smile for everyone. Remember one thing, it’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

      1. Boston Ucan Haveit says:

        Its hard to accept the truth huh? You are one of these people with superiority complex who thinks that no one deserve anything but your people. Why dont you go out of the state so that you can see for yourself that anything is better than Boston. Nice try in labeling me as a colored person with your “amigo” comment, thats just typical racist Bostonian. For your information I am just as white as you but thank God I am not a bigot. So go on drink your guiness or your pint, get yourself drunk to numb that pint size brain of yours from reality.

      2. k says:

        It’s better to keep your mouth shut, then to open it and remove all doubt. Abe Lincoln’s quote…he didn’t say “stupid”!

  13. Northe says:

    It’s very true ..Bostonians are incredibly rude and classless

    1. BostonMeanine says:

      No we’re not… F*CK YOU!

      1. TitleTownUSA says:

        Like Button!!

  14. Becky says:

    I grew up in Mass and I have frequented Boston and Manhattan many times. And Manhattan is MUCH friendlier than Boston. Perfect example, I had a double stroller and was trying to open a door- In Boston I was left to struggle- people just walked by… In Manhattan not only did someone help me but followed me into the store to make sure I was able to get the next door inside! HUGE difference…

  15. Matt says:

    Weird. I don’t find this to be the case at all.

  16. njchase says:

    I agree with this article completely. I lived in the Metro Boston area my whole life and people are generally rude, discourteous, and unkind. There are some nice people too, but it seems they are in the minority and I rarely see them when I am in the city. People here seem to thrive on behaving badly.

  17. A.F. Hutchinson says:

    We deserve the ranking. I grew up in Roslindale, which seems to be a much friendlier place than West Roxbury, which is, unfortunately, where I live now. It’s a lovely place, but best if you are not a) a person of color, b) GLBT, c) look like you might be either, or both a person of color and GLBT. One of my neighbors actually congratulated me for having the ‘courage’ to live as an openly gay person in our neighborhood, which was at once oddly nice and totally terrifying. While Massachusetts blazed the gay marriage trail, in communities like WR, gays are looked upon with suspicion. Remember, this is the neighborhood that got The Phoenix banned because it wasn’t ‘appropriate.’ I’m saving every dime to get the heck out of here, because it is not where I want my bones to rest. Mean, meaner, meanest, Boston — you’re it. And I should know — I’m a native!

  18. Anisha sharma says:

    Well done! However, on a quick note these people could have saved money on survey. I mean $4.00 round trip on subway could have explained that..LOL and about rudeness: dont even get me started… Its a groupy people city..people dont say hello to each other and they dont talk to each other.. People are allergic to each other and this seed of allergy is may be from their childhood! And needless to say they cant smile except when they are in their sheep herd! And if u do find someone friendly dont forget to ask where they are frpm “originally” and the answer will be “not Boston, God NO” !! LOL

  19. Andrew says:

    Must be the weather….

  20. Theo says:

    In your face New York…we’re #1…we’re #1…we’re #1 Lol

    1. jessie says:

      lmaoo another thing to beat new york in

  21. NeverSummer says:

    For 35 years i thought it was like this all over the country. We are a ‘can of corn’ for sure. If you are IN you are IN. you have friends for life. Yes, we are openly guarded, openly hostile towards yankees fans, and really protective of our land, family, etc which may seem abrasive and rude and obnoxious. But travelling 30 minutes to go 1 mile on the highway, the insane cost of living, the constant long work schedule, longer lines at Dunkin Donuts, etc will drive anyone insane.
    I have Boston Pride for our teams and culture and I am still very proud to be a Bostonian. However in 2006 I moved to Park City, Utah and talk about 180 degrees. People here (and not just the mormons which constitute 30 percent of SLC and practically nonexistant in park city ) are much more laid back, more friendly, more talkative to strangers, and more giving. Then again it could be the weather and ski conditions.

  22. emom says:

    I have to wonder, How much Grant $$$$ did the government supply to these people for this already obvious survey….. and Which city ranked the highest or should I dare say THE FRIENDLIEST..

  23. pmgarra says:

    It is so easy to be so self-righteous on these blogs…isn’t it??? I am born and raised in the North Shore of Boston and oh by the way…have traveled all around the USA and world for that matter…I have learned that in all cities there are both “friendly” and “not so friendly” people. I have always been the type of person to go out of my way to say hi to people…my friends often feel that I am overly friendly…and again, I was born here, have lived all over the place and live here again…I am very proud of Boston and Massachusetts, for being leaders in having many of the best colleges and universities in the country, with a long list of presidents who were educated here, as well as being a leader in technology as well. We have the beautiful 4 seasons which I would not give up for the world (lived in the south…all set! ) Boston has always been a melting pot for diversity…and most often a leader in the political areana…do we really even need to mention that we have the top hospitals in the country…I could go on and on all day…Oh yeah…can’t leave out our incredible sports teams : ) Go Bruins!!!! I love Boston and New England and would never dream of living anywhere else….p.s. to all the really angry bloggers…you sound really unfriendly….from this friendly Bostonian….I hope you all have a beautiful day!!!!

    1. some shmoe says:

      You’re a minority. Ive lived here all my life and I can say pretty much all of Mass is unfriendly. I’m moving out as soon as I can, but the harsh taxes are kind of grounding. Every other place I’ve been is way more friendly than Boston. If you’ve found happiness in that dark place, then good for you. But to me, I’d rather go west coast to a place where people actually smile.

  24. Amy says:

    I’ve lived in Boston for the past 10 years or so, and I will agree, the people here do seem “rude” or maybe just reserved? Of course there are nice people, but more often I come across rude people. Is a “thankyou” so hard to say when someone is holding the door open for you?
    Oh, and another interesting study would be to determine why people stare so much? Can’t wait to move out of this city. The streets suck too, fill the freaking potholes!!!!!

    1. Mark says:

      It’s the typical northeast mentality. Get me out of there!

  25. Cynic says:

    You would be in a bad mood too if your whole existence consisted of being bled by the City.Reason #99 of 10,000 why I don’t live there anymore.
    I was considering a visit recently then asked myself why? and I didn’t
    Reason #100…You can always get a ticket for a Texas Rangers game and you don’t have to sell your kids to afford one.
    The nearest parking meter is 45 miles away and the nearest Meter Maid is over 100 miles away.

  26. Mrs. Detroit says:

    As a new MA resident,I find many of the women in Boston haughty, arrogant, sullen and spoiled. The men are obnoxious, aggressive and self-entitled.

  27. Dean says:

    Sorry Boston, but TRUE!
    Born and raised there, but left the same day I graduated from High School. Over forty years ago. Also many hang ups with religion there. If you ain’t Catholic and from Southie, than you are going to Hell. Sorry, but we are all going to the same place. Back many times to visit. A disaster on the road. ZERO patience! My sister drives like a maniac! No courtesy! Also, you can still cut the racial tension there in that town. Love you Boston, but, GROW UP!

  28. pat says:

    Rude and classless is going on a website to bash another city. You all no nothing about Boston and its people, step back take a good look at yourself. You all have embarrassed yourselves and your own city at that.

  29. Meg says:

    I live outside of san Fran now, but I’m from Boston, and I’m sorry, people here are unfriendly, unhelpful and ungrateful. I can’t wait to get back to Boston someday- so sick of these people here! Outsiders just don’t understand the boston ‘attitude’.

  30. Aaron says:

    From Illinois, raised by New Englanders:

    I’ll take ‘rude’ over fake any day of the week. Coming from the more ‘polite’ Midwest, the way it works is that people say really nice things to others and then speak HORRIBLY of them the second they’re out of the room. It’s a bunch of passive-aggressive nonsense. I’m shocked by the number of ‘nice’ people lacking the BACKBONE to stand up for their supposed friends. A Bostonian will always let you know where you stand, and I’ll take that over guessing.

  31. Dave says:

    As a Texas transplant, I have to say that having lived here for 10 years I agree to a point. At best, Bostonians are tough nuts to crack. At worst, they are grade-A jerks. It was a culture shock… so much so that if friends from home hadn’t moved to the area after my first year here, I’d have long moved.

    Curious to know if there was any guessing by the makers of this survey as to why Bostonians are the ‘meanest’. My guess is that the corporate culture is too pervasive here. Too many years of aggressive type-A ambitiousness in the office spilling out into the street. Harsh winters, long commutes and the high cost of living don’t help either. Come to think of it… why am I still here?

  32. Julie says:

    Born and raised in California and now live in Boston b/c of my husband. Have lived all over the place. People here earn the title of “unfriendliest”. They don’t smile, don’t say hi on the street, even avoid eye contact, have an arrogant attitude and who are also, the rudest and worst drivers. I get that there are great schools/universities, hospitals, etc. here, but come on! Be nice!

    1. grace says:

      I agree with you. There are a lot of great hospitals and universities, but gee the unfriendly and rude people are everywhere. Nobody says start a conversation with everyone, but just a smile and good morning or hello would be nice. Honestly I’ve smiled at people and don’t get one back………..and when it happens to me too many times, i stop doing it too. Then I fall into that unfriendly category. It is contagious. It’s like why bother, nobody else does. I hate having that attitude sometimes. A warm smile from a stranger can feel good on a bad day. We all ought to try it.

      1. Noah Miller says:

        You really hit the nail on the head, Grace. That is EXACTLY how I feel, and what you described…how you end becoming an unfriendly person because of all the unfriendly people around you…is exactly what has happened to me. I guess it’s just natural to react a certain way when your environment encourages it. But the sad news is…most of the country is pretty similar. Do you actually know of a city in America where people actually are genuinely friendly?

  33. HyphenatedNamesAreARedFlag says:

    Not a coincidence that the three Least Friendly cities are arguably the most liberal bastions in the country. NOT a coincidence at all. The haughty, arrogant, hyphenated name, elitist, liberal wh@res that dominate the Greater Boston female population account for the results of this poll all by themselves.

  34. bostonlover says:

    when you come into our city with a bad attitude most likely youll leave with one. you dont know if that person who didnt hold the door for you was rushing to the hospital or just got fired. if you expect us to be rude then your only gonna remember the rude things and eaaily over look the nice things. nobodys perfect not even bostonians. every city has rude people. you cannot judge a book by its cover. bostonians may come across rude but you have no idea who theyare so why are you judging an entire city on a few bad expiriences. it really doesnt matter to us but why should we get a bad rap by ppl who pick us apart and found a few flaws? boston your a wonderful home you will always be my home and i never plan on leaving bc you are a part of me. go sox(-:

    1. Margaret says:

      The truth is that Boston is plain RUDE and CRUDE. You can keep your whole damn state, too.

      Been to your city/state and won’t go back. Once was too many times!!!

  35. bostonlover says:

    racist irish? who the hell are you? the irish people are the best thing that ever happened to this city no matter what anyone says! thankyou grandma and grandpa for jumping on that boat!

  36. VS says:

    I’ve lived in the Boston-area for 3 years, and I do think Boston is unfriendly and downright mean. The drivers are frighteningly angry and aggressive, people on the subways are rude to one another, cashiers at stores shove receipts in people’s faces, there are always bottles of alcohol on the sides of the roads (from drunk drivers or walkers?)…the list just goes on. I don’t know why people here are so hostile, and it makes me sad that I have to live here for a while longer. Can’t wait to move.

    1. Noah Miller says:

      Hello VS. I just read your comments about Boston. That is EXACTLY how I feel. But where would you move to? It seems that so much of the US has a similar attitude these days. I used to live in Seattle, and it was paradise. Now, it’s just like Boston. Any ideas?

  37. Oswald Sivinius says:

    I moved to Boston from the Midwest and spent over 5 years living and working there. A big part of my job involved building partnerships across various business, community, academic, non-profit, and social organizations. But after all those years of investing both time and energy nothing came of it, ultimately. The quality of life never really improves. The city is chock full of out-of-sight-out-of-mind types and the day I conducted a test of not reaching out to new people is the day my phone went silent. It was then that I truly realized why so many people had always warned me about how cold New Englanders can be. Sure, you can find 1000’s of people to do things with but most never invest any sincerity or long-term interest in building relationships. I think the problem with that city is that it is too transient, too intellectual, and too self-righteous, a combined problem of having students move into the state because of Harvard and MIT (as a side note, you can sense the pervasive competitiveness among almost every single social interaction, an amazing thing to witness). What you get then is a social scene that’s comprised of people who will constantly compare you against the newest crop of incoming talent and dump you at the drop of a hat. The unfortunate thing is that I truly believed and loved Boston. But not ever again. Why on earth would you waste your days and life on dealing with people that have no sense at all of what community means, how to open up to people, or how to extend even the simplest courtesies? Unfortunately I’ll never get my 5 years back but Boston will still be one of my favorite cities, but now only as a tourist.

  38. Joe says:

    I agree entirely. Do yourself a favor: Get the hell out of Boston and Massachusetts. Life is too short to waste your time there. A significant number of people there (not all) are like cold fish. They’re also very abrupt and brash!!

  39. Love that dirty water! says:

    Ha! You think Boston is bad? Take a ride about 1 hour south to Hartford. These people will not even acknowledge you standing in font of them. In Hartford even the folks who live in the hood and have no money act like they are better than you. Even those with a poor education think they are smarter… You may think Boston is bad, but if you are smart you will stay the h*ll away from Hartford!

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