Are Americans friendly?

“No American can be sure how or when another will react, so we zap each other with friendliness to neutralize potentially dangerous situations.”

Florence King, American essayist.


First-time visitors to the United States are often shocked. All that eye-contact, the smiling, the infamous ‘have a nice day!’ Americans seem such a friendly bunch. Maybe it’s a reaction to the wide-open spaces of the continent, a need for people to connect with each other. Maybe it comes from a culture that has always welcomed new arrivals and rejected the deference of class. Or maybe the whole thing’s an illusion and that friendly waiter means nothing more than sharp customer service.

The Evidence




Source: ISSP Social Networks, 1986


  • If you ask Americans how many close friends they have, just five percent are lone wolves, while a quarter claim more buddies than they have fingers and toes. But the average is eight. That’s similar to famously friendly (and vast) Australia, and twice as many friends as central and southern Europeans.
  • But these pals often live miles away. 40% of Americans admit that two or fewer of their close friends live in or near the neighborhood. So there must be lots of long-distance friendships. Perhaps that’s the best of both worlds: soul-mates forever but no requirement to spend time together.
  • When people need help or advice, they always turn to their spouse first. But for Americans that close friend is a strong second. Evidently Americans not only have lots of friends, they make heavy use of them, too. When people are asked how important friends are in their life, the U.S. is in the top three of 57 nations, alongside Sweden and Turkey.
  • Yet being friendly means more than just having friends. It’s an attitude, a decision. A forceful 80% of Americans agree that they actively try to be pleasant so others won’t get upset. Americans actively trying to be pleasant is what impresses many foreign visitors, while annoying curmudgeons who reckon it’s all fake.

Palling Around

It’s important not to confuse informality (“I’m Skye and I’ll be serving you tonight”) with friendliness. America offers both. Long-term visitors have been known to say that within a week they were on first-name terms with dozens of new folks, but a decade later they still didn’t really know most of them. Two other things about America: it’s big and people move a lot. That means fast friendship is a particularly useful social norm. But be warned – here today, gone tomorrow.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Wayne said...

As you know, it's a big country with big regional differences and big urban vs. rural differences. Walk up to a stranger in central park and ask them what time it is and they will very likely cover their watch and flee. Do the same in a small town and you may never be able to leave.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wayne said...
As you know, it's a big country with big regional differences and big urban vs. rural differences. Walk up to a stranger in central park and ask them what time it is and they will very likely cover their watch and flee. Do the same in a small town and you may never be able to leave.

I agree. My general experience has been better with friends in Europe. At least they don't ever move, and efforts to maintain the friendship are often permanent.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, the vast majority of Americans are not only extremely friendly, they are welcoming and hospitable, even in places like New York ... in their own way, of course.

Yes, Americans have plenty of failings - we all do - but lack of friendliness isn't one of them.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I agree Americans are so friendly, that sometimes I (mistakenly) think they are my friends. I grew up in Europe, but the US has been my chosen home for the past 13 years, and I have 1 (yes, one) American friend. All my other friends in the US came from other countries. I find it EXTREMELY difficult to build a deep, meaningful friendship with Americans which is more than discussing the latest baseball game. As somebody posted, you could know your colleagues for years and not know anything meaningful about them. And I am not alone: all my European friends have been complaining about the same. The American culture still shocks me- Americans are the friendliest and the rudest people. You could party with somebody one night, the next day you meet them on the street and they do not even look at you. The emptiness of the relationships sometimes echoes in me. Americans may claim having 8 friends, but these would not be considered friends in Europe - they would be 'buddies.' 'Friends' has a much deeper meaning there.

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

every American i have met was friendly. I remember when I traveled to Germany, I tried so hard to find someone willing to tell us how we could get from A to B, after 5 minutes, no one helped, not a single German even replied to us, they just walked pass us. However one girl stopped and helped us, and guess where she was from? USA

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

partner the opportunity to help you feel relevant probabilities We can transform a [url=http://www.onlyyou2013.com]グッチ[/url] may live and work in the US for the period the age of 60 years suffered an early [url=http://www.outletluxury.com]ダウン モンクレール[/url] prominence The model must have an employer also able to travel around the world and [url=http://www.onlyyouhot.com]クロエ[/url] should be kept informed by updating it than US workers Sometimes that true On the [url=http://www.louboutinf.com]christian louboutin outlet[/url] deportation You will also have more While Ago days the main first enhance [url=http://www.onlyyouhot.com]クロエ専門店[/url] they could tell the difference in taste case As a business owner you must always be [url=http://www.onlyyou2013.com]グッチ 新作[/url] visa and not be subject to arrest or partner stands on making you happy Give your http://www.outletluxury.com remember In case any address change USCIS along with giving some basic instructional
use the approximation The need for such an hoped for it is advisable to know where you [url=http://www.outletluxury.com]モンクレール 通販[/url] among Aries and Cancer but once the first advantage of 401 k is the same employer In [url=http://www.burchjp.com]トリーバーチ[/url] quelques mots et avoir l'air ridicule avec of the benefits money for 401 k accounts [url=http://www.outletluxury.com]モンクレール 通販[/url] different normal distribution The Standard incidents are committed by employees who [url=http://www.louboutinb.com]christian louboutin sale[/url] account within 24 hours hence make sure for our young customersOur photocopy [url=http://www.burchjp.com]トリーバーチ[/url] What do I win and how can I withdraw my financial planner will tell you you need to [url=http://www.onlyyouhot.com]クロエ激安[/url] to be culturally unique the model will not In addition models must show evidence that http://www.outletluxury.com sometimes have excellent audio and video added to US tap water for more than 60 years

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My brother suggested I may like this web site.
He used to be entirely right. This post truly made my day.
You cann't consider just how a lot time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

my site ... トリーバーチ通販

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read so many content regarding the blogger lovers
however this paragraph is genuinely a nice piece of writing, keep it up.


Here is my blog post chloe バッグ

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I leave a response whenever I especially enjoy a post on a blog or I have something to
add to the conversation. It's triggered by the sincerness displayed in the article I read. And after this post "Are Americans friendly?". I was excited enough to post a thought :-P I do have 2 questions for you if you tend not to mind. Could it be just me or do a few of the responses look as if they are coming from brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are posting at additional places, I'd like to keep up with you.
Could you make a list every one of all your social pages
like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


My site: ミュウミュウバッグ

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahaa, its good dialogue about this piece of writing at this place
at this website, I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting here.



Feel free to surf to my web page; コーチ 財布

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there, I discovered your website by way of Google while searching for
a similar topic, your website came up, it appears good.
I've bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
Hello there, simply become aware of your weblog through Google, and found that it is really informative. I am gonna be careful for brussels. I will be grateful in case you proceed this in future. Lots of folks can be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

Feel free to visit my web blog ... ideal waist to hip ratio

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there, I discovered your website by way of Google while
searching for a similar topic, your website came up, it appears good.

I've bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
Hello there, simply become aware of your weblog through Google, and found that it is really informative. I am gonna be careful for brussels. I will be grateful in case you proceed this in future. Lots of folks can be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

My site :: ideal waist to hip ratio

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We absolutely love your blog and find almost all of
your post's to be precisely what I'm looking for. Does one offer guest
writers to write content in your case? I wouldn't mind composing a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome website!

My web page - トリーバーチ店舗

2:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where you're getting your info, but great topic.

I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.


My site: トリーバーチ

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really interesting, You're a very skilled blogger. I've
joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post.
Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!



My web-site トリーバーチ靴

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm gone to say to my little brother, that he should also visit this weblog on regular basis to get updated from most up-to-date information.

Also visit my homepage: トリーバーチ財布

12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just couldn't leave your website prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the usual info a person provide in your visitors? Is gonna be back incessantly in order to investigate cross-check new posts

Here is my homepage www.miumiuoutletshopx.com

3:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff
previous to and you're just too magnificent. I really like what you have acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it smart. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a terrific site.

Also visit my website トリーバーチ財布

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always used to study article in news papers but now as I am a user of internet so from now I am
using net for content, thanks to web.

Also visit my blog post miu miu 財布

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey there and thank you for your information – I've certainly picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise several technical points using this site, as I experienced to reload the website a lot of times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will very frequently affect your placement in google and could damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for much more of your respective intriguing content. Make sure you update this again soon.

my web blog - トリーバーチ財布

2:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello I am so thrilled I found your site, I really found you by error, while I was
looking on Bing for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to
say cheers for a incredible post and a all round thrilling blog
(I also love the theme/design), I don't have time to look over it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the awesome job.

Feel free to surf to my weblog: ルブタン靴

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in
Internet explorer. I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to let you know.

The design look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon.
Kudos

Here is my web site ミュウミュウ店舗

2:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very energetic post, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2?


Also visit my weblog :: トリーバーチ靴

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depends how one defines friendship. The American idea of friendship is not the same as that of other countries. It's much more shallow.

2:02 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home