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Stereotypes of Americans Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 in Culture

Stereotypes are generalizations and oversimplified ideas about groups of people, but let’s face it we all have stereotypes about people. American’s have stereotypes about non-Americans (for example, American’s often think all Asians are short, Italians talk loud, and the British have bad teeth), and non-American have stereotypes about Americans. Let’s take a look at some of the negative stereotypes out there about Americans and see how much fact or fiction there is in these different American stereotypes.

Americans are fat.
Some people may go as far as to say America is the fattest country in the world. It is true that as many as 35% of Americans are obese, or extremely overweight, but certainly not all American are fat. In fact there are countries in the world where the people are larger/fatter than the population in American. You can read more about this by clicking here.

Americans are rude.
Well, it is hard to say if this is true or not because rudeness is definitely cultural. In America it is rude to burp while sitting at a table (after eating food) or to spit in public places, but these are not rude actions in other places around the world. Perhaps where this stereotype about American’s arises is from Americans who travel abroad and don’t know or follow the customs of politeness and rudeness of the countries they are in. This may make them appear rude. One thing that Americans tend to do well, in terms of being polite, is to say ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ and ‘sorry’ frequently.

Americans are racists.
Racism is certainly a big issue in American culture today (as well as throughout our country’s history).  This country is very diverse, so opportunities for racism do show up, and may seem frequent. But this isn’t to say that all American’s are racists and have inflexible beliefs about race and ethnicity. Unfortunately, racism is not just an American problem.

Americans are violent.
In 2012 it was reported (in the Washington Post newspaper) that the United States had more shooting deaths than any other country in the developed world, so violence certainly exists here. This isn’t to say though that all Americans own guns or use their guns violently though. And there are plenty of ways to be violent without using a gun. American have a long standing constitutional belief that they have a right to own guns.  This is one reason there are so many guns in American and why this leads to some of the violence seen in this country.

Americans are arrogant (or they think they are better than people from other places).
Many non-American’s believe that Americans are self-absorbed, self-interested, selfish, arrogant, and only interested in themselves. Although this may be true about some Americans, on the whole it unfair to say this it is any more true in America, compared with anywhere else in the world.  In fact, in 2011 Americans ranked as the most generous people in the world in terms of giving time and money to non-profits. Sixty-five percent of Americans say they donate money to charity, 43 percent have volunteered their time, and 73 percent say they help strangers. Read more about this here.

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


Comments:

  1. Sergio Rodrigues:

    There is a joke that goes: how do you call a man who speaks three languages – trilingual; two languages – bilingual; just one language:American.
    Is this another stereotype?

    • gabriele:

      @Sergio Rodrigues Yes, this is another stereotype, that most American’s only speak one language. What do you think, how true is this stereotype?

  2. Adilet:

    Is the author of this article Amarican? It’s too much protection. 🙂

    • gabriele:

      @Adilet Yes, the author is American. PLEASE feel free to offer your own perspective! What do you think about these stereotypes? Do you agree with them or not? Opinions are accepted 🙂