America 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 in comparison to other nationalities 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 comparisons about us—Americans—I’d have easily thought these behavioral quirks are by some communities far deep in the Congolese jungle.
Imagine an ultimate guide to a society of weird habits 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 made a comparison of other revealing behavioral facts about us that are quite funny and together with my colleagues from financesonline we’re created an infographic. 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 analysis of the report about or social evolution 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. It makes me wonder what is the future of our social experience as Americans. 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.
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