Atlanta, Georgia, USA downtown skyline at dawn.

Atlanta makes list of Most Sinful Cities in the U.S.

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The holidays are known for encouraging overeating and overspending, which is bad news when over 40% of U.S. adults are already obese and the country has over $1 trillion in credit card debt.

In light of these vices and several others, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on the 2022’s Most Sinful Cities in America, as well as expert commentary.


To determine the most wicked places in America, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on seven sinful behaviors: anger and hatred, jealousy, excesses and vices, greed, lust, vanity and laziness.

By The Numbers

Here are some highlights from the report:

Most Sinful CitiesLeast Sinful Cities
1. Las Vegas, NV173. South Burlington, VT
2. St. Louis, MO174. Columbia, MD
3. Philadelphia, PA175. Burlington, VT
4. Houston, TX176. Laredo, TX
5. Atlanta, GA177. Pearl City, HI
6. Los Angeles, CA178. Cape Coral, FL
7. Denver, CO179. West Valley City, UT
8. Chicago, IL180. Fremont, CA
9. Baton Rouge, LA181. Bridgeport, CT
10. Phoenix, AZ182. Port St. Lucie, FL

Most vs. Least Sinful 

  • Irvine, California, has the lowest violent crime rate, 0.51, which is 46.1 times lower than in Memphis, Tennessee, the city with the highest at 23.52.
     
  • Port St. Lucie, Florida, has the fewest thefts (per 1,000 residents), 8.26, which is 9.2 times fewer than in Salt Lake City, the city with the most at 75.93.
     
  • San Francisco has the lowest share of obese adults, 16.10 percent, which is 3.1 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest at 49.40 percent.
     
  • San Jose, California, has the lowest share of adult smokers, 8.70 percent, which is 2.9 times lower than in Huntington, West Virginia, the city with the highest at 25.11 percent.

To view the full report visit: 
https://wallethub.com/edu/most-sinful-cities-in-america/29846

Commentary from WalletHub

Should the government play a role in trying to reduce greed and consumerism?
 
“For a long time, economic success in the U.S. was measured by the number of savings people had. Relatively recently (I do not recall exactly when, but it was this century; post-WWII I believe), there was a flip to deciding to base the economy on consumer spending as a way of expanding the economy quickly in a way that favored business. So, the government had a fundamental role in producing the current climate of promoting consumerism.

“By that argument, the government clearly has a role in trying to reign in the beast it unleashed. This is particularly true given that human behavior tends to respond to the structures and opportunities around it (as described above). People do not just make choices; they make choices from out of the options available (and apparent) to them.

“A completely unfettered free market allows businesses to do what they want, but then they constrain consumer choices to the options that the businesses want, and those do not include saving money or using items long-term. Emphasis on consumer spending has produced ‘planned obsolescence,’ where manufacturers deliberately create products that will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. ‘Fast fashion’ and cell phones are clear examples, but increasingly we see it in all electronics, as well as appliances, furniture, and even cars.”

Linda E. Francis, Ph.D. – Professor and CSU Faculty Mentoring Fellow; Graduate Program Director, MA in Applied Social Research, Cleveland State University
 
“Out-of-control and destructive greed is likely to be found in any environment and society without some degree of checks and balances (remember the run-on toilet paper in the early days of the pandemic?). So, the government, religious groups, civic groups, and so forth can potentially play a role in putting brakes on runaway greed and consumerism keeping guardrails up for this human tendency, especially when people are stressed, fearful, and frustrated.”

Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP – Professor, Santa Clara University and Adjunct Clinical Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine
 
Recent data suggests that Americans are doubling down on their worst habits (e.g., unnecessary spending, excessive drinking and eating, binge-watching, etc.). What are some strategies that might help people steer clear of temptations and maintain their health?
 
“Whether sinful or unhealthy behaviors, there is a host of suggestions from psychological science to reduce unhealthy and unlawful behaviors. One suggestion that applies to sin and unhealthiness is simple. Making the behavior easier to do will make it more likely to happen (and vice versa). If I keep a lot of Halloween candy around and make it accessible, I am more likely to eat it. If I buy snacks or alcohol, I will be more likely to consume them. Going beyond simply changing access, first observing WHEN you do an unhealthy behavior (what was the reason? how were you feeling?) essentially finding the precipitating factors, and then coming up with an explicit plan to change it is key…So, modifying your environment, and having specific thoughts and behaviors handy when temptation comes up, can go a long way. For some extreme behaviors getting professional help is a good idea.”

Regan A. R. Gurung, Ph. D. – Associate Vice Provost & Executive Director, Center for Teaching and Learning; Director, General Psychology Program; Professor, Oregon State University

“As a sociologist, I often remind people that the social environment is crucial to understanding human behavior. Sure, data collected during the pandemic indicated that people were drinking more, streaming more, getting less exercise, watching more porn, etc., but all of these increases seem to be attributed to the isolation and limitations that came along with pandemic life.

“If environmental factors change, behaviors usually change as well. That means we should be careful not to put too much blame on individuals for their response to larger social forces. This is the theme of the recent book by psychotherapist Eric Minton, It’s Not You, It’s Everything. Minton points out that the malaise of modern life is largely due to the dysfunctioning social, economic, religious, and political structures we have created in U.S. society. In other words, it’s not you, it’s everything.

“The solution isn’t simply more willpower, it is also structural change to help mitigate these problems. That doesn’t mean there are no individual actions to be taken. I personally have worked to set a more consistent routine, started a book club with old friends (where we read Eric Minton’s book), and re-connected with several religious and social communities. But as a sociologist, I’m largely concerned with the social forces that influence our behavior.”

Blake Victor Kent, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Westmont College; Research Affiliate, the Harvard Flourishing Program

What are some effective strategies for combating addiction? Domestic violence? 

“This is a question that you could write whole multi-volume books on. Basically, it depends on the addiction but in general, you want to use biopsychosocial strategies that intervene at the biological, psychological, and social levels. I have done empirical research in this area that has focused on spiritual interventions as well…You need to wean people off the addictive elements and then use these biopsychosocial factors to help sustain the healthier behavior.

“This could include staying away from environments that encourage addiction (e.g., bars, certain friends, and family), getting community support (e.g., AA groups), finding more productive ways to deal with challenging impulses to use problematic substances, and so forth. We need to be mindful of risk factors for domestic violence as well as be mindful of the frustration-aggression theory too. We also need strategies to help victims get support and both carrots and sticks to influence abusive behavior. We have made progress in the USA on this front since the 1980s but really need more effort too. Sadly, it appeared that domestic violence may have had an uptick during COVID and quarantine times.

Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP – Professor, Santa Clara University and Adjunct Clinical Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine