Hello friends! Welcome back to PART 2 of American stereotypes. In my last article I explained what a stereotype is, why it is easy for us to accept them as true without realizing it, and the danger in adopting them without question. In an attempt to become more aware of the truth about American culture, I did some research on American stereotypes. In my first post, I explained some stereotypical characteristics of Americans that are usually considered positive, so if you haven’t read PART 1 yet, go check it out! In this article, I expand on more American stereotypes, some of which might be viewed negatively, and how to have a more balanced perspective on each one. Bring on PART 2!
“Americans are obsessed with guns”
This stereotype may have been generated by the fact that the number of guns was equal to or greater than the number of Americans, in addition to the United States having the world’s highest death rate caused by firearms (homicides, mass shootings). Despite this alarming information, the number of guns has decreased to a third of the population. Not every American owns a gun, however, gun ownership may be more common in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world.
“Americans are overweight”
This stereotype is related to the eating habits of Americans, who sometimes favor convenience over health, tend to consume food with more added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and have fast food readily available. Although data shows that about thirty percent of the population is overweight and that one in five Americans eats fast food several times a week, there are many Americans who adopt healthy eating habits.
“Americans are consumerists”
It can be said that this stereotype is true, since the data points to the United States as the world’s largest consumer. The culture of high consumerism originated after World War II. The country was recovering from the depression and consumer goods were back on the market. The situation was favorable for high consumption. There were many jobs, wages were high, young people had high purchasing power and were getting married, and the population was eager to spend. It was in this context that the government stimulated greater consumption through financing programs. Even today, consumption is stimulated to maintain the country’s economy.
Stores are typically large and have everything I need, which stimulates my consumer mode!
Personally, I can say the majority of products are cheaper here than in Brazil. Stores are typically large and have everything I need, which stimulates my consumer mode!
“Americans like big everything”
Houses, cars, products, and even portions at restaurants are generally larger in the United States than in other countries. One explanation for this is that American families are usually large (usually between 4 and 6 members), so everything needs to be bigger to fit the family.
The first time I went to the grocery store in the U.S., I was surprised by the size of the products and their packaging.
The first time I went to the grocery store in the U.S., I was surprised by the size of the products and their packaging. Even the normal size products are bigger than what is sold in Brazil.
“All Americans are rich”
This stereotype is fueled in part by the powerful global economic position of the United States. But despite the country’s reputation, many Americans know that the country’s wealth doesn’t always transfer to all its citizens, and there are millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.
“Americans have low cultural awareness”
Americans can be stereotyped because they know little about other countries and cultures. This stereotype may be true, as most Americans do not even have a passport; they may also have shorter vacations or time off and family expenses that prevent them from traveling far. Therefore, they are more likely to take advantage of travel within the country, whether it’s to visit family or to discover new states.
Another fact that may support this stereotype is that Americans tend to value information and activities in which they feel involved or can do something about. If the American does not travel internationally or have personal experience with other cultures regularly, he or she may feel that it makes no sense to seek information about other countries.
That being said, there are many Americans who have multicultural experiences, whether they have traveled themselves or have friends from various countries who have taught them more about interacting with foreign cultures.
“Americans can only speak English”
Despite the United States being notoriously monolingual, many Americans speak other languages.
“Americans are entitled”
This stereotype was created from the behavior of some American tourists, who, knowingly or unknowingly, demand that locals meet their cultural preferences and worldviews, including speaking English. This behavior may be due to a lack of knowledge of other cultures and their personality, as Americans seek what they want and communicate it more directly than is normal or polite in many other cultures. This can lead to conflict or misunderstandings with people from other cultures.
“Americans have low concern about the environment”
This stereotype is related to the fact that the United States consumes a large amount of oil and natural gas, emits a large amount of carbon dioxide, and generates a large amount of waste. Despite this data, companies and the government have been active in looking for alternatives for environmental conservation. Also, Americans have an increasing number of recycling, reuse and clean up programs to protect the environment, reuse land, and reduce waste.
Now I want to hear from you! What did you think of these stereotypes? Do you have any personal stories related to them? Would you add any other stereotypes to this list? And regarding your culture, are there any differences/similarities? Please share in the comments section below!
I hope this post helped you to know more about American culture and increase your cultural awareness. I look forward to your feedback in the comments section and I’ll see you next time!
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Balderas, Christopher. “15 USA stereotypes that are totally inaccurate (10 that are 100% true). The Travel, 29th Nov. 2018. https://www.thetravel.com/usa-stereotypes-inaccurate-true/.
“Common stereotypes about Americans”. YouTube, uploaded by The Infographics Show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCTTc_2W7rA.
McCarthy, Niall. “1 in 5 Americans eat fast food several times a week”. Statista, 9th Aug. 2013. https://www.statista.com/chart/1349/one-in-five-americans-eat-fast-food-several-times-a-week/.
McLeod, Saul. “Stereotypes”. SimplyPhsychology, 2017. https://www.simplypsychology.org/katz-braly.html.
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“Overweight and obesity statistics”. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity.
“Stereotypes of Americans”. Wikipedia, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotypes_of_Americans.
“The rise of Americans consumerism”. American Experience. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/tupperware-consumer/#:~:text=Wartime%20production%20had%20helped%20pull,Americans%20were%20eager%20to%20spend.
“Truth or myth: Americans react to stereotypes”. YouTube, uploaded by Dating Beyond Borders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjFhKNQs-Ls&t=63s.