What Other Countries Really Think of Americans

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Do other countries love or hate Americans? (Photo: Thinkstock)

Between news reports and social media, it’s hard to know exactly how the world views Americans. But now, we have an answer. 

In his book Attractive Unattractive Americans: How the World Sees America, Renee Zografos examines how other countries view the United States. Over the course of seven years, Zografos interviewed more than 1,000 people from around the world, and their thoughts on America are about as diverse as its population.

“Every human person has something to say about America or knows something about America,” Zografos told Yahoo Travel. “And it wasn’t always positive.”

From his research, Zografos was able to make some assumptions about how other countries view Americans. For instance, Scandinavian countries tend to have the most positive view of Americans. While they can be critical of some American practices, overall they have embraced U.S. entertainment, and maintain an idyllic “Hollywood” ideal of what Americans are like. 

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Americans are more likely to use their smartphones during dinner, while those in southern Europe focus on conversation. (Photo: Corbis)

On the other end of the spectrum, Zografos found that people living in Southern European countries like Italy and Greece tend to have a more negative image of Americans. He credits major lifestyle differences as the main cause. 

But Zografos didn’t write this book to point fingers or anger readers, instead he hopes his findings will help people around the globe get closer to happiness. 

Related: How to Spot an American Anywhere in the World

“I think too many people in America are just chasing after something they might not want —to be socially accepted, to attain wealth, or a bigger house,” said Zografos. “I think they would be happier if they chased something that they actually wanted, instead of what was expected.”

Attractive, Unattractive Americans will be released in August, but Yahoo Travel was able to skim a copy and pull out some interesting opinions from people across the globe. Here are five examples of how people from around the world view Americans.

Americans are winners

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Many Americans have a “can-do” attitude. (Photo: Corbis)

Americans never lose sight of their goals, they don’t look back and they want to win. This winning mentality can be off-putting to some, but others find it inspiring. “Before I went to America I was a shy little student afraid of almost everything in this world,” said Sandra from Germany. “But America taught me to be brave and outgoing. Thank you, America.”

Other countries love to hate America
There are a lot of positives about America. It’s home to some of the most beautiful national parks, people pride themselves on tradition, and many places exhibit a strong sense of community. Still, some countries continue to make digs at Americans for being loud, selfish and flashy. Despite their insults, Derek from England makes a good point. “I have always wondered why so many folks say that they don’t like America but still keep traveling back there year after year.”

Americans are stressed out

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Americans are known for putting in long hours at the office. (Photo: Corbis)

Did you know that U.S. workers put in more hours on their job than the labor force of any other industrial nation? So yeah, we’re stressed, and other countries are definitely noticing. “Americans must certainly learn to slow down! Even on vacation they are very stressed,” said Maria from Chile. “Relaxation never seems to be an option.”

Related: Don’t Be an Ugly American: How Not to Behave in 12 Other Countries

Americans seem shallow

Many Americans believe that bigger is better, but other countries see that philosophy as a character flaw. Instead of focusing on family time, Americans would rather focus on achievements, which Vangelis from Greece doesn’t quite understand. “Americans’ philosophy is to live so they can work” he said. “We work so we can live, meaning there are other things in life that are more important than working”

Americans have an “I” mentality

According to Zografo’s findings, today’s American society places enormous demands on all individuals. Americans are always striving to portray a positive image and are focused on themselves instead of others. On a global scale, this attitude can make Americans seem inconsiderate to other cultures and countries. “We don’t hate America as a nation,” said Karin from Sweden. “We just hate their attitude toward the rest of the world.”

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