American Stereotypes: A Research Project

I'm an American, and the word "American" means many different things to many different people. For many years I have been obsessed with the idea of cross-cultural stereotypes: Where do the come from?  How do they spread? Why does the world like to talk about each other using stereotypes? How do stereotypes affect our willingness to communicate with each other and get to know one another? 

I am working on a personal project to discover what the world thinks about Americans, and how we can improve our image in the world. So please help me with my research by answering these questions:  

    1. What are the stereotypes your country has about Americans?

    2.  Do you think they are true? Why or why not?

    3. Where do these stereotypes come from? 

    4. Have you ever met an American? What were your experiences like?

    5. How can Americans do a better job of representing themselves to the world? 

I am looking for honest feedback, but please remember to be respectful in your commentary on this sensitive topic. The goal is not to intentionally offend anyone or start an argument. Instead, the goal is to encourage us all to reflect on how stereotypes affect our perceptions of each other and to also provide eye-opening information to other Americans as to how the world views us, and ways in which we can better our cross-cultural interactions. Thank you for your participation. 

Mar 16, 2017 3:17 AM
Comments · 11

Stereotypes are patterns, developed over a long historical period. They contain a lot of experiences and “thumb rules” for thinking in an “orderly manner“, to explain the world in a very simple way. Stereotypes can affect people positively or negatively. You could also research prejudices, referring to negative stereotypes.

Sorry, I must see in your question itself a highly unlucky stereotype: What do other countries think about Americans? I am only a German woman; I would never dare to say what Germany is thinking about Americans, or Germans are thinking about America! You can be sure (outside of your research project): There are already very different people in ONE family. You may be the well-behaved daughter, the pride of your parents, who is able to open the hearts of almost anybody you meet. Your sister may be a very restrained, shy young girl who needs some time to get in contact with a stranger. Who of you both is a typical American? … And stereotypes always refer to so called typical characteristics…

I believe you need to express your topic more precisely if you want to achieve best results. Believe me, a good question is the key for good results! Much success!

March 16, 2017

We have strong negative feelings. This is mostly if not exclusively related to American wars, solders and military bases, occupation and exploitation of countries all over the world, but in my country in particular, throughout the history, but recently in particular. To address some counterarguments, I have heard from people who have been in the US that people are kind and helpful there. I have no reason not to believe this, but it can not anywhere nearly compensate for the above mentioned violence. I also don't subscribe to "it is not the people its the government" argument, because I have hardly ever heard an American condemn what US is doing to the rest of the world.

I tried to be as respectful as possible. I do have very strong feelings about this. Let me just add that I not everyone in my country would agree with me. There are many people in Serbia who don't feel this way, don't want to think in this direction and prefer to just focus on the positive.

March 16, 2017

@to Farisha

America is a continent and not a state. People get confused and think it only refers to the USA. Canadians are also (north) Americans. The south Americans consider themselves Latino Americans. 

By the way, the term America comes from the name of the Italian explorer Americo or Amerígo Vespucci one of the "discoverers " of this continent, a continent who wasn't a desert but where people of different cultures lived and were killed or assimilated by the newcomers.  

March 16, 2017
I was born, raised, and had most of my career in the UK. Many British people I've known, or heard speak, have had a very strange and distorted and bitter view of Americans (that they're loud, ignorant-of-the-world, rude, aggressive, and a bit crazy.). These distortions of reality tend to spread from person to person like any other cultural habit or myth or error does. Consequently, I would say that more than half of the British people I've known have had this problem to some smaller or greater degree. It often seemed to spring from some small seed of envy or resentment about something that was never quite clear to me. Anyway, I've lived in the US now for 11 years and I'm a US citizen so of course I love the country and the people. Americans don't need to do anything differently; the problem that I described is exogenous. There are many such odd and illogical prejudices in the world that exist within one group toward another group. They make no sense, they should not be taken too seriously (as long as they're relatively benign). And I feel that we should all strive to minimize how often we talk about groups, and separation between groups, and instead to maximize how often we talk about kinship and cooperation and the things that we all share as humans. That's my feeling, anyway. :)
March 16, 2017

The most common stereotype about Americans and about America in my country - Americans are very proud. The society in my country is of opinion in the imperialist ideas of America. A vivid example for this is the wars in which America participated, but did not officially join the war, fighting like a peacekeeper. We do not even need to delve into history, take the Afghan war. The USSR suffered heavy losses from American weapons, which they supplied to the Mujahideen. <o:p></o:p>


There was a conflict of generations. My young generation, born after the collapse of the USSR, adheres to tolerance in everything. But the old generation is conservative in its views, and most of it negatively speaks about the Americans.

<o:p> </o:p>

In my opinion, people can not be blamed for the actions of his government. Americans are not bad people, I talked with a couple of people, and I liked their constant polite manner of communicating with a pleasant smile.

<o:p> </o:p>

*I apologize if my English is bad ...<o:p></o:p>

March 16, 2017
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