The rest of the world often takes notice of the United States because of its place as the unofficial title holder of "best country". Although that claim is an arguable one, very few people are going to disagree that if not at the very top, the US is certainly among the highest ranked worldwide in terms of overall quality of life. With so much to do, a knack for always pacing ahead, diverse people and a strong economy, it should come as little surprise that America is often on everyone else’s radar. It is in fact true that the state of affairs in the US has a massive impact on the rest of the world.
With so much power and impact to everyone else, it stands to reason that outsiders all have their opinions about people from America. Some of these opinions have become so commonplace that they are widely accepted stereotypes of the US people, some good, some bad and some simply indifferent. It goes without saying that some of these notions are entirely inaccurate and misplaced, while in other instances, some are grounded in reality.
Here are 13 stereotypes about the USA that are true and another 12 that are simply not.
25 TRUE: The US is Not Culturally Aware
A lot of the world sees people from America as pretty self-centered and only focused on the United States without much knowledge of what is going on in the rest of the world. This goes back to the notion that English is the only spoken language. With these beliefs, the perception that USA folk are completely unaware of other cultures is widely accepted by the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, a lot of this is rooted in truth with it being fairly standard to be somewhat ignorant of other customs and societal norms outside their home. It is pretty apparent when people from America visit other countries as tourists and their lack of cultural awareness is on full display.
24 FALSE: USA folk Are Entitled
The perception that people from America feel a sense of entitlement likely comes from the interactions that the rest of the world has with them while they are visiting as tourists.
Many people feel that USA folk feel the rest of the world should conform to them when they are visiting their countries, but this is likely anecdotal.
For the most part, they tend to be very open to other cultures when traveling and do their best to follow the customs and languages of others, even if they initially go in unaware of much of it.
23 TRUE: The US is Wasteful
According to Forbes Magazine, “the record holder for most garbage holds tightly to its title” with the most recent statistics showing the United States produces over 250 million tons of waste, far exceeding any other country.
This would be acceptable if the US was the most populous country in the world, but it isn’t even close to places like India or China. With a population that comes in over a billion short of those countries, but still has the highest waste production in the world, it is a given that the stereotype of America being wasteful is true.
22 FALSE: The people Are Loud
Much aligned with the notion that they are too informal, it’s also generally accepted by the rest of the world that people from the United States are far too loud. This likely stems from the idea that they are very relaxed in their ways and tend to be more open about speaking up which is associated with volume.
The truth is that USA folk, although a fairly vocal people, are probably not any louder than the average person from any other country.
21 TRUE: America Has it All Wrong when it Comes to Football
Football is America’s greatest sport. It’s what defines US sports through its grit and toughness on the field, often seen as an embodiment of US dominance. It’s certainly a spectacle to behold with some of the biggest ratings on TV, often exceeding 20 million viewers a game.
But it is true that the United States is behind the times when it comes to the other football, spelled futbol by the rest of the world. Although America can boast some pretty impressive figures when it comes to their version of the sport, it simply cannot contend with the billions that tune in to soccer, more aptly considered as the world’s unofficial sport.
20 FALSE: Everyone in California Drives a Prius
California is seen as a pretty hippie like state with a big emphasis on green initiatives and vegan/vegetarian lifestyles. With this being a pretty accurate representation of the state on a broader scale, it makes sense that everyone else automatically assumes that all Californians drive a Prius.
Although there aren’t concrete numbers to validate the percentage of Prius owners by state, it should go without saying that not everyone in the state of California drives one. Take a drive through Cali and you’re sure to see a surprising number of trucks as well.
19 TRUE: The Best Movies Come from the US
The perception that the best movies in the world come from America likely all boils down to money. Sure, the birth of Hollywood is in Los Angeles, so the US deserves plenty of credit for being the engine that propelled the art of film and TV, but the rest of the world is capable of making great stuff too.
The reality is that the US is able to produce and create the best movies in the world because of the budgets that they’re able to pull together, often resulting in CGI spectacles that require $200 million in spending. Either way, it is true that most of the world’s biggest blockbuster hits come stateside.
18 FALSE: Everything in the South Tastes Like Salt
The South is synonymous with good old country Southern cooking. There are even food shows dedicated to Southern cooking and they’re wildly popular. The world and rest of the country see the food that comes from this region and immediately think that everything made in the South has to taste like salt, considering their generous use of it.
The truth is quite the opposite though. Everything in the South actually tastes like heaven. Unhealthy or not, Southerners can proudly claim that they make some of the best food in the world.
17 TRUE: They're Hardworking
This stereotype likely goes all the way back to how the United States was portrayed since its beginnings, centuries back. How often have we seen black and white images of USA folk of the past working hard in the fields, sweating in factories and constructing the world’s first skyscrapers?
Depicting the middle class hard at work during the country’s meteoric rise to power was synonymous with US dominance during those times. It was through this perception of hard work and resolve that the world began to take notice of the work ethic. Although the jobs we perform today are not nearly as backbreaking across the board, it is true that by and large, that USA folk tend to put in quite a bit of hard work.
16 FALSE: Everyone from America is Materialistic
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of the world looks at the US and sees a country that is obsessed with material possessions. That perception likely stems from the wealth that is seen in America and the relatively nice lifestyle that the average person in the country is afforded.
But a decent lifestyle by the average citizen in the US does not necessarily equate to a materialistic approach in life. Although it is true that there are those who are in fact materialistic, it is also true that this mindset exists everywhere in the world as well.
15 TRUE: They Are An Optimistic People
By and large, this stereotype likely falls under the "true" category because of the idea of the “Dream” that is instilled in every US person from a very young age. This notion that anyone in this country can achieve the dream of being whatever they want through hard work is a fairly common mindset across people from all classes, regardless of background. With so many people approaching their everyday life with this idea, it stands to reason that optimism is a way of life for many.
14 FALSE: They Only Speak English
The perception that USA folk only speak English likely stems from the belief that people from the US are not in tune with the rest of the world, while only focusing on their own homeland. This is a stereotype we will address later on, but as far as languages are concerned, this is just not true.
According to census.org, the “Census Bureau reports at least 350 languages (are) spoken in U.S. homes.” The ever growing diversity seen in the country which is constantly shifting the demographics in the United States is a big contributing factor to the multitude of languages spoken.
13 TRUE: USA folk are Generous
When a country is ravaged by Mother Nature or involved in some type of conflict, it is not uncommon for the rest of the world to look to the US to somehow make their mark on the issue because of its history of getting involved to help with resolutions.
When there is a significant need to raise money for a country decimated by a hurricane, locals typically donate generously to the cause. If a country is in need of resolving a conflict, the US tends to step in to help with peaceful solutions.
In fact, according to howmuch.net, the US sent $36.1 billion in foreign aid to countries around the world, helping with efforts in education, peaceful resolutions, health, and emergency responses.
12 FALSE: New Yorkers are Rude
This stereotype is not just limited to the rest of the world, but is also generally accepted by those in America as well. The average person believes New Yorkers are rude, but it isn’t necessarily true.
The perception is probably rooted in two factors – New Yorkers have a very thick distinct accent and they are always in a hurry. The way they speak in their very distinct, aggressive New York accent might seem very direct and matter fact. Couple that with the notion that New Yorkers are always on the move and visitors might feel like they’re not the nicest people around.
But neither of these necessarily equate to being rude. The reality is that most tourists spending time there are offered help by residents just like any other city.
11 TRUE: USA folk Know How to Have a Good Time
There is a perception by most of the world that USA folk love to have a good time and are often partying, out at bars or in clubs. This idea was popularized by how they were depicted in popular culture decades ago, especially when the MTV boom hit in the 1980’s.
Ever since, the image stuck and everyone associates partying with the US. And it’s true. People from America have been known to be a pretty laid back sort who are prone to having some serious fun from time to time.
10 FALSE: America is Not Environmentally Conscious
The notion that people from America care very little about the environment is rooted in the carbon footprint that the US has on the world, so there’s definitely some truth to the idea that they aren’t very environmentally conscious. But it’s also important to note that all things are relative.
With the country being as populated as it is and having a significant share of the world’s production of goods, it stands to reason that the emissions and impact to the environment are going to be notable.
According to Wallethub, “nearly three in four believe that the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.” This mindset has led to innovative and creative efforts to move to a greener standard of living in most major cities.
9 TRUE: They Are Really Patriotic
When tourists visit any number of cities in the United States, they are going to be greeted with US flags at all businesses and homes, to go along with red, white and blue color schemes everywhere. Visitors immediately get the sense of patriotism when walking the streets of any city, no matter what part of the country.
This outright showcasing of national pride is not the norm compared to the rest of the world, so there’s definitely plenty of truth in the notion that the people are really patriotic.
8 FALSE: The Best Music Comes from the US
The idea that the best music is made in the US probably comes from just browsing iTunes’ top charts and trending songs. There’s a decent chance that most of those songs that are charting are by US artists. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the best music though. It simply means it’s the most popular music.
Credit should definitely be given to the US for their major stamp in the music industry, but let’s also recognize that the rest of the world is making some pretty great stuff as well. After all, the British gave us Queen, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and The Who, to name just a few.
7 TRUE: People From America Are Too Informal
Many countries throughout the world are rooted in customs and a deep respect for traditions. Countries like India, Japan and China, which when combined would account for 37% of the world’s population, practice traditional customs. This essentially means that a huge population of the planet finds these things very important and when they look at the US, a country that is relaxed by most standards, they often see us as too informal.
It’s probably true for the most part, as the US doesn’t practice rigid customs and instead marches to the beat of their own drum in a sense.
6 FALSE: They're Career Obsessed
This one goes back to the mostly true stereotype previously listed regarding USA folk being a hardworking people. With that mindset, it likely means that work is seen as a very important facet of life in the US which is mostly true.
But there is a fine line between being focused on getting ahead in work and being obsessed with one’s career. The former is more true in the US while the latter only pertains to a select group, much like with any other country in the world.
5 TRUE: people from America are Very Creative
The rest of the world looks at the music, film, and art that comes from the United States and often associates America with being incredibly creative. It’s a pretty true stereotype seeing that its people are encouraged from an early age to pursue the arts and this often shines through in the form of great music, powerful films, beautiful art, profound literature and some of the best performing art found on any production stage in the world.
A lot of the world’s best art of any form comes from the US and it’s a testament to its creative people.
4 FALSE: Everyone in the US is Rich
The United States is seen as a very wealthy country by the rest of the world as it is quite normal to see average citizens living a very comfortable lifestyle. The average lifestyle by most is in fact seen as one of great luxury by many people from around the world.
Although it is definitely true that USA folk are very privileged to live in a country that is advanced and developed, it is not true that everyone is rich. Like any other country in the world, the US has deep issues with poverty and income inequality.
3 TRUE: They're Very Athletic
Any statement that makes a blanket generalization about an entire group of people is always going to be wrong, so it isn’t exactly true that everyone is America is athletic. But it is true that many of the world’s best athletes come from the United States.
With such a great emphasis on sports from a young age, many dedicate their lives to being in top shape, resulting in some of the best athletes in the world, ranging in all sports including basketball, football, soccer, baseball and more. This culture can often be seen as obsessed with sports and athletics.
2 FALSE: All Texans Drive a Truck
Opposite to the notion that all Californians drive a Prius, Texans on the other hand, are all assumed to be owners of the quintessential giant pickup truck. Many assume the people of Texas are all southern cowboys who live in rural areas and drive trucks, which is true to an extent, but only in small doses.
The truth is Texas is home to some of the biggest cities in the country and with giant metropolises like Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, there are millions who drive small cars and pass on the pickups.
1 TRUE: The people Are Innovative
The world looks at the United States and often sees the product of their people’s ingenuity. The United States is the country that ushered in the industrial era, moving production from manual labor to automated factories, built the first car, made modern skyscrapers a norm in giant cities, landed on the moon, was at the forefront of the tech boom and has developed some of the most advanced software platforms in use today including social media.
Although it goes without saying other countries are innovative as well, the USA has a history of being at the front of the pack when it comes to advances in the world.