Nearly a week ago from today, I was sitting on an airplane on my way home from one of the coolest places I have ever visited. As someone who has been fortunate enough to travel the world, people scratched their head when I told them that Dublin was now at the top of my “coolest places I’ve been” list. The typical response I received from my friends was, “I mean, its just Ireland, right?”
Wrong. Sure, they speak the same language and much of the United States is of Irish decent (including myself), however, there is much to be said about the Irish. They are incredibly friendly and welcoming regardless of your nationality. Their outlook on foreigners in their country is characterized by warmth and an appreciation for visiting Ireland. Moreover, I was impressed by their food and of course, their devout love for the infamous Irish beer, Guinness.
However, my understanding of Irish culture went deeper than just experiencing Dublin. Coincidentally, I was charged with another field assignment in my CRS 400 class that involved me and my partner, Mubarak Hayatu-Deen, developing a questionnaire to ask foreigners on their perspective towards Americans. Seeing that I was in Dublin for the weekend, I decided it would be interesting to see how my results varied against those obtained by other students in London.
After attempting to ask Irish locals to complete my questionnaire, I soon realized it was too long. Once people realized that it was eight questions, they immediately gave me the cold-shoulder and walked away. I therefore compiled the survey into a single question, which I felt would be less obtrusive and more time-conscientious for my interviewees.
“How do you perceive Americans, and why”?
Below, you can find a chart with the breakdown of nationalities I interviewed.
You can also find my results here: Field Assignment Results
Initially, I was surprised with the positive remarks people made towards American culture. However, I soon realized that it was most likely because they did not want to say negative things about the United States in front of an American (me). This is why I suggested the best way to administer this questionnaire would be via an online survey and to do so anonymously. This would eliminate any hesitation the interviewee has and would allow them to be completely honest.
However, I began to realize my results paralleled Trompenaar’s dimensions. For example, many of my interviewees touched on the fact that Americans are hard-working, independent people. This plays into the dimension of Individualism vs. Collectivism and highlights the fact that Americans are generally considered to be individualistic. Moreover, Americans learn more towards the specific dimension rather than diffuse because they value work over relationships and tend to put their job first. Below, you can see in the word cloud generated from my data that this is evident as words like “hard” and “working” appear more than others.
Additionally, many of my interviewees alluded to the dimension of achievement and how Americans measure success. For example, some people talked about how Americans can often be seen as gaudy and show off their wealth and others highlighted the fact that Americans boast about their military strength and over-patriotic. While Americans may measure success differently, it is often through materialistic means such as money or possessions.
I’m interested to hear what other people think of Americans, so I have attached a minified version of my questionnaire below. I realize that my blog audience is mostly American, however, I would prefer if other nationalities took my survey.