The term Seattle Freeze refers to a widely held belief that it is especially difficult to make new friends in the U.S. city of Seattle, Washington, particularly for transplants from other cities. A 2005 Seattle Times article appears to be the first known use of the term, though the Seattle Daily Times described the phenomenon as early as the 1940s.
Newcomers to the area have described Seattleites as being standoffish, cold, distant, and distrustful, while in settings such as bars and parties, people from Seattle tend to mainly interact with their particular clique. One author described the aversion to strangers as "people are very polite but not particularly friendly". While some residents dispute the existence of the Seattle Freeze, a 2008 peer-reviewed study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science found that among all 50 states, Washington residents ranked 48th in the personality trait extraversion. In 2014 a similar report by the Seattle CityClub ranked the population 48th out of 50 similarly-sized cities in activities such as "talking with neighbors frequently". The rapid growth of Amazon and its accompanying influx of largely young, male technology workers may have exacerbated the phenomenon.
It has been speculated that the origin of the phenomenon could stem from the reserved personalities of the city's early Nordic and Asian immigrants. Other reasons may include the emotional effects of the climate (such as Seasonal Affective Disorder), or the region's history of independent-minded pioneers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Seattle was the first major U.S. city affected and began implementing social distancing measures earlier than other regions. The Seattle Freeze was cited as a factor in the pandemic's slowdown by late March.
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- Permenter, Cody (3 May 2016). "How I Learned to Love the Seattle Freeze". Thrillist.
- Reifman, Jeff (March 22, 2015), Peepless in Seattle: Dating, Friendship and the Seattle Freeze
- Amageddon: How Amazon’s culture is taking a toll on Seattle’s future, Geekwire, November 19, 2014
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- Balk, Gene (December 4, 2012). "Seattle Freeze: Can we blame it on the Norwegians?". The Seattle Times. Retrieved Dec 4, 2012.
- Baker, Mike (March 29, 2020). "Coronavirus Slowdown in Seattle Suggests Restrictions Are Working". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2020.