Comparison of Americans’ Weird Habits: Smartphones Are More Important Than Sex And Waffles Measure Storm Severity

David Adelman
David Adelman and Alex Hillsberg
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PrintAmerica is facing its biggest threat to its existence. Not terrorism or the threat of weapons of mass destruction, but from mobile phones. A survey published by Statista last February revealed that more Americans would rather live without sex than without their phone. It’s one of those odd insights about us that cast doubt to our collective “superior” perception of our culture over the rest of the world.

Inspired by this social shock, I started tinkering with other survey results that might corroborate my armchair findings. True enough, a pattern emerged. Had I not known I was reading social insights about us—Americans—I’d have easily thought these behavioral quirks are by some communities far deep in the Congolese jungle.

Imagine a society where an increasing number of its members would rather sleep (just sleep) with a different mammal and put that in the context of an increasing number of people who believe living with another person is an option. It’s not a natural evolutionary trend. That’s us. Fifty-eight percent of Americans sleep with their cat or dog, and 27% of us are living today in one-person household, a significant increase from 17% in the seventies.

I’ve compiled other revealing behavioral facts about us that are quite funny. The French may exalt their ratatouille and the Chinese their Szechuan chicken to visitors. Both dishes are rooted in the heritage of their place of origin. On the other hand, we Americans are proud of our barbecue; it’s the top American food we’ll recommend to tourists. Surely, we can do better than suggesting meat cooked over charcoal as a national cuisine, I mean, even Cro-Magnons knew barbecue.

In the study, “The Weirdest People in the World,” behavioral scientists from the University of British Columbia in Canada rebut the traditional scientific theory that all humans have similar psychological traits. It turned out that Americans are somewhat isolated in liking the idea of getting the bigger slice of the pie, a trait frowned upon in other cultures. The researchers even labeled Americans as “weird,” meaning, different.

The study created a buzz in anthropology.  A review of the top six psychological journals in 2008 revealed that nearly 96% of subjects in psychological studies were Westerners and about 70% of them were Americans. In short, most behavioral studies used subjects from just 12% of the world’s population.

That should explain why we think other people are odd. To put everything in perspective, we may be the biggest member in the bird kingdom, but other birds may see the ostrich as strikingly odd.

Tweetable Facts:

  • 44% of Americans sleep with their phones, and only 20% of them can’t imagine their lives without sex [Tweet this]
  • Lipstick sales and hemline lengths are actually quite accurate in measuring the strength of US economy [Tweet this]
  • FEMA uses Waffle House menu & opening hours to estimate how bad a situation is after a storm [Tweet this]

CHECK OUT MORE ODD AMERICAN BEHAVIORS IN OUR INFOGRAPHIC BELOW:

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David Adelman

David Adelman is a deputy business and finance editor at FinancesOnline.com covering personal finance issues, providing all sorts of learning guides and product reviews. David leads coverage on various social media news and has years of experience reporting on startups and marketing trends for such publications as The New Yorker and Business Insider.

Category: Comparisons, Featured Articles, Infographics

3 Comments »

  • Sarah says:

    You’ve made a mistake in quoting the study. The word “weird” is not strictly used as meaning different but is actually an acronym that stands for “White Educated from an Industrial Rich Democratic country”. Which the authors explain in the introduction. Of course it’s an intentional pun, but it’s still important.

  • serena says:

    We can laugh at most of the facts here except maybe the single household trend. I know a couple of friends who live alone in their forties. Nothing wrong with that, but if this becomes the norm, we have to ask ourselves–are we becoming that selfish? Again, single households are okay as an individual preference and not as a societal trend, which is the issue the data is telling us.

  • helenyee says:

    Well the material doesn’t seem to take these odd issues seriously. It’s a pun at ourselves, more like a satirical look at Americans because we’ve got used to analyzing other cultures except ours. Funny, now I think about these weird habits whenever I sit in Heidi. Yes, she’s my lazy chair in the living room.

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