You are what you live

Have you ever given pause to thought about national stereotypes and the perceptions that strangers may have of you because of where you live?   It’s hard to talk about such things without over generalising but often like many other things they can be based on fact.

Germans can come over as hard working and efficient because many of them are.  Americans are often thought to be loud and brash and in comparison to most other countries it can be the case but as my post on Introverts and Extroverts shows, it is more complicated than that.  Wherever you go in the world you will see Japanese people taking photos of things even if they don’t know what it is they are photographing.  I’ve actually put this to the test in London by photographing a totally bland and generic building and within few seconds I was joined by three Japanese tourists!   Sometimes you can make judgement as soon as someone opens their mouth.

Being British we’re as guilty or judged as much as anyone.  Either we’re toffee-nosed stuck-up aristocrats, dirt-poor slightly cheeky peasants or gangsters, wild eyed Scots, Welsh or Yorkshire folk or smooth talking clever, sophisticated types and in many Hollywood films, evil.

Surely much of this is due to our upbringing in our different countries.   In Latin countries people are much more outgoing and hugging and kissing people to a degree that in England would probably get you at best looked at strangely and at worst in a fight or arrested!  Similarly the displays in North Korea by the public when their glorious leaders die whereas here I remember coming across the first joke about Princess Diana after she died, just 3 hours later.

However it would seem these distinctions don’t just occur between countries but within them as well.   Some places the people are known for partying or working hard or being clever and others for being drunks or criminals.  When the film Divergence came out, a friend and I generally enjoyed it but wondered about how realistic it was that whole tribes of people would grow up to be artists, engineers or warriors.

Back in real life it is interesting also to see whether the people themselves share the same opinion of themselves compared to outsiders judge them.   This week a survey was released with some interesting results.

Liverpudlians consider themselves to be the happiest, funniest and most honest people in the country – while those in Sheffield are the most ruthless and selfish, a study has found.

A poll of 2,000 Brits, which asked people to pick personality traits they felt best described them, found those living in Liverpool are also most likely to see themselves as ‘approachable’, ‘dependable’, ‘generous’ and ‘quick-witted’.

But it’s not all good as more people in Liverpool than in any other city consider themselves to be a little on the irresponsible side.   Broadly speaking though I don’t think many from outside the city would disagree.

Cardiff residents are most likely to see themselves as ‘sociable’ but while those in Cambridge think they are selfless and peaceful, they also admit to being pretty blunt at the same time.

It also emerged that as a nation, Brits would be most likely to describe themselves as ‘friendly’, ‘dependable’, ‘honest’ and ‘genuine’.

Reliable, polite and kind were also among the most common words picked out to describe our personality.

A spokesman for Insurgent, which commissioned the research to mark today’s Blu-ray and DVD release, said: “Everyone has different parts to their personality, but there are always more dominating traits which show more than others.

“In Insurgent there are five factions which reflect people’s personality traits and whilst we don’t necessarily fit into one faction and/or personality traits, it’s interesting to see how people are most likely to describe themselves, especially when you compare that to British and city stereotypes.”

While few of us would be willing to admit to having some of the more negative personality traits, those in Sheffield don’t seem to be too concerned.  Then again people in Yorkshire are also known for their bluntness and telling things as it is.

But people in Sheffield don’t see themselves in much of a positive light, being most likely to use the terms ‘careless’, ‘dominating’, ‘mean’ and ‘sad’ to describe their personalities. They do however think they are the most confident.

Despite the tough Scottish stereotype, people in Edinburgh see themselves as ‘insecure’ and ‘sensitive’, although they are also most likely to also describe themselves as ‘determined’.   Then again  most people would clearly see the difference between Edinburgh and nearby Glasgow and they and the people to me seem like chalk and cheese.

The study also found Londoners consider themselves to be the most ambitious in the country, while people in Newcastle are most likely to describe themselves as ‘brave’.  As someone from Newcastle but living in London I’d say that generally speaking that is correct and I’d much prefer to be amongst the brave than the ambitious but then I’m not ambitious at all.

Those in Oxford are most likely to consider themselves to be ‘friendly’, ‘genuine’, ‘loyal’ and ‘mature’, and fittingly for the university city – ‘intelligent’.

Brighton residents see themselves as ‘reliable’ and ‘organised’, but also slightly ‘lazy’, while those in Bristol used ‘perfect’ and ‘shy’ to label their personality.

People in Plymouth see themselves as ‘cheerful’ but also ‘pessimistic’, ‘opinionated’ and ‘rude’ with those in Leeds most likely to think they are ‘demanding’ but ‘polite’, enthusiastic and realistic.

And if you are looking for love, head to Portsmouth as those in the southern city are most likely to describe themselves as ‘loving’ and ‘romantic’.

The study also found six in ten have been left surprised by a comment someone else has made about them because it was so different to how they saw themselves. And 28 per cent have even ended up rowing with someone after disagreeing with their opinion of them. However, 58 per cent of people admit someone has used a negative term to describe an aspect of their personality which they have agreed with.

More than half even claimed to have made a conscious effort to change something about their personality to make it more positive after realising it was something they could improve on.

The most popular traits across the country:

1. Friendly

2. Dependable

3. Honest

4. Genuine

5. Loyal

6. Approachable

7. Reliable

8. Polite

9. Kind

10. Intelligent

11. Cheerful

12. Respectful

13. Loving

14. Generous

15. Funny

16. Realistic

17. Happy

18. Sensitive

19. Humourous

20. Organised

21. Mature

22. Determined

23. Quiet

24. Confident

25. Sympathetic

26. Enthusiastic

27. Impatient

28. Sociable

29. Shy

30. Optimistic

31. Quick-witted

32. Forgetful

33. Patient

34. Insecure

35. Loner

36. Opinionated

37. Blunt

38. Ambitious

39. Lazy

40. Romantic

41. Peaceful

42. Moody

43. Pessimistic

44. Demanding

45. Brave

46. Obsessive

47. Pedantic

48. Selfless

49. Paranoid

50. Simple

What I like about this survey is that people are not afraid to describe themselves with slightly negative terms such as Opinionated, Blunt, Moody and Pedantic.   One can only wonder which city sees itself as paranoid.   As for Simple, I could hazard a few guesses but that would just put me into another British stereotype, being superior but obviously as the survey above shows, there are plenty of simple folk around who wouldn’t match that image.

The survey was commissioned to coincide with the release of Insurgent, which is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, courtesy of Entertainment One.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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5 Responses to You are what you live

  1. There,s so much in this post worth discussing I can,t even start. All I can say is that I moved to Italy because English hypocrisy was getting a bit too much for me Again a post from a writer I allWays look forwards to hearing from for his intelligence, perception and truthfulness


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maureen says:

    would be interesting to do a survey like that here in NZ…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is there a big variation in NZ as there is in the U.K.? I’d hope that it would be a more equal and less judgemental place than some other areas but it seems that wherever you go the people there have issues with others!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maureen says:

        I think there might be – certainly there is a love/hate relationship between Auckland and the rest of New Zealand. Plus the further south you go the friendlier the people seem to get. My theory was that they had to huddle together to keep warm…

        Liked by 1 person

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