What's An American - What Americans Are Like

by katiem2

Learn what Americans are like. To better understand Americans and American customs read here and hear from real Americans.

First a bit of history. Most Americans are descendants of immigrants, and although American born, few of them are Native Americans. We owe a great debt to the Native American Indian for it is their home we have made our own. Today over 2 million Native Americans are living in America.

Americans take great pride in the origin of their heritage. It is for this reason Americans are most notable for diversity and freedom. Americans pride themselves on being open minded, free spirited and embracing their individual principles and beliefs.

America is the land where many countries came together merging their beliefs, traditions and heritage forming what we know as the great American melting pot. America provides safe haven for those all over the globe making it the beloved home where one can truly let their hair down, be heard and follow their dream.

The American Individualism

Above all else Americans are undoubtedly among, if not the most, diversely individual countries.

What Clearly Defines Americans? An American is anyone born in the country or one who chooses to make America their home by becoming an American citizen.

One of the most important things to understand about Americans is the devotion to unique individualism and the freedom to openly express it.

This makes for a difficult stereo type as no one stereotypical description applies.


Born American

From the time of their birth each American is taught to see themselves as individuals with a unique self-destiny special only to them.

Americans are encouraged to follow their special path, find the love of their life, or soul mate (if you will) and flat out live on their own terms.

Are You American

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This allows the reader to know the percentage of non Americans and Americans who participate in the polls, debates and comments of this page.

American Religion

The religious beliefs of Americans vary greatly.

Religion is a big reason many immigrants came to America. Immigrants came to express their religious freedoms and the right to practice their beliefs and costumes denied in their home country.

  • The majority of Americans (76%) identify themselves as Christians,with the largest group being Protestant and Catholic denominations, accounting for 51% and 25% of the American population.
  • Non-Christian religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism), combined make up about 3.9% to 5.5% of the adult religious population.
  • Another 15% of this adult population identifies themselves as having no religious belief or affiliation.
  • When asked, about 5.2% said they had no preference with many exercising their right to decline reply.
  • According to the American Religious Identification Survey, religious beliefs vary considerably across the country.

The freedoms Americans enjoy allow them to freely change their religious choices and or practice none. This makes for a constant shift in the actual stats on religion.

Religious Freedoms

A number of Americans (59%) living in Western states (the "Unchurched Belt") report a belief in God. The facts differ in the South (the "Bible Belt") with the figure reaching as high as 86%.

The first amendment prevents the government from making any "law respecting an establishment of religion", and guarantees the freedom to exercise religion. 

American Relationships

Relationships are held in high regard and thought to bring each party intense joy and pleasure.

Relationships in America

The partnership being a source of pleasure and freedom they may choose at will.

There are no stipulations on relationship status in America everyone is free to be either single, married, divorced, living together etc.

It is common practice for Americans to marry and divorce repeatedly. It is not considered a failure to do so yet a learning process.

The ongoing pursuit of happiness is always the foremost on the agenda of an America.

Religion typically does not interfere with relationships.


The American Ambition

Americans are encouraged to conquer and excel at self-reliance.

Self-reliance being hallmark to the success and ability to provide for oneself.

This creates a highly competitive nature, in American society, work and the family.

It’s been said Americans are obsessed with having more and keeping up with one another. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “Keeping up with the Jones’s”

It can be said that Americans are highly competitive with many being materialistic comparing what they have with the norm.

Americans and Privacy

Privacy comes in second next to individualism and is very important to Americans as it reflects the freedoms they hold so dear.

While thinking of this great and diverse melting pot one may think Americans would not be of a private nature and yet they are.

Americans are an open book most of the time but privacy is a ritual exercised on a regular and consistent basis whenever any one individual chooses to exercise this right.

Americans expect and understand the need for routine private, quiet, down, or alone time, as it is commonly referred.

This is a vital time in which Americans restore their energy, creative and productive stamina. Americans often become stressed if not afforded their private time.

Personal space is also an unspoken right of all Americans meaning the space around a person’s body of at least one foot. Anytime one’s personal space is interrupted by another it is seen as invasive making others uncomfortable.

Americans value their privacy in terms of their material possessions as well. They expect anyone to ask permission before using or borrowing their belongings as this is proper etiquette. One’s private possessions are not expected to be openly shared.

Americans find it rude and disrespectful for someone to ask to borrow money. 

It is considered to be an infringement on one’s personal privacy and boundaries to make such request as it could create an uncomfortable strain on the relationship be it work or other.

Americans Time Management

Americans tend to over schedule their time, while they pride themselves on achievement they often over extend themselves.

Over achieving leads to the stress of rushing around from one thing to the next with a sense of needless urgency and lack of relaxation. This source creates the need for privacy and down time on a regular basis.

Punctuality is considered to be a highly regarded trait of Americans. Americans see those who are routinely late as being rude and of poor character lacking ambition.

Americans expect themselves and others to be on time arriving to the scheduled work or event early to insure their prompt arrival.  Those arriving early are regarded as well organized and reliable.

If for any reason Americans are made to be late they are expected to call the appropriate person making them aware providing a valid reason for their tardiness and an expected time of return.

Any American going against this expectation is considered to be self-absorbed, lazy and disrespectful in the eyes of fellow Americans.

The judgement of such people is commonly unspoken yet are made negatively affecting future relations or opportunities.

The Outspoken American

Americans are open and direct with others, if you ask expect to hear a honest and direct response.

It’s common for Americans to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions.

Collective thinking is considered a vital process of society in family, friendship and professionally.

There are guidelines as to the topics and depth to which Americans engage in them depending on the sensitivity. This is called being politically correct.

Americans are taught to balance their emotions keeping them in check with an open line expressing their thoughts and feelings within limits.

Thoughts and ideas are withheld if it is thought to be rude or offensive to another. Americans will keep public communications in check only expressing what is politically correct.

Americans display expressive body language and gestures having a broad range of nonverbal expressions.

These types of expressions are mostly considered appropriate in casual environments and or situations and not to be used in business or formal settings.

The American Social Structure

Americans believe in equality throughout the social, educational and economic structure of the country.

American families do not tend to live together with the children typically leaving home during or after college to make their mark in the world. The empty nest syndrome occurs when parents are left alone once their children come of age leaving the family home at the age of 18 or 21.

American children can work earning their own money anytime they are ready with parental consent. It is seen as ambitious to do so and highly regarded as an indicator of future success.

Americans may not treat international visitors of high social positions any differently than they would other Americans.

Americans view this as a way of making others feel comfortable or at home. Make yourself at home being the attitude of most Americans.

This may insult international guest or visitors as they find Americans rude and forward where as they are merely acting upon their belief that everyone should be treated equally.

Equality is a vital American right.

Americans only make distinctions among others in regard to age, wealth, sex, and social standing subtly in an attempt to be politically correct.

American Dress and Fashions

The most traditional long standing American favorite fashion piece is the all American blue jeans.

While the American wardrobe is as diverse as the people denim is the longstanding favorite and a vital part of every wardrobe. It is acceptable to wear jeans with anything. Jeans may be dressed up or down and worn to most any occasion.

Due to the popularity of blue jeans I mention this garment only as it is an iconic American article of clothing. Many in other countries seek the highly prized Levi's brand of jeans. Levi's is historically an American favorite line of denim jeans. 

American jeans are sized differently than European jeans you will therefore need to be prepared to measure yourself. Jeans of all varieties and brands are made in unisex fashion as well as those made exclusively for men and women. There is no wrong way to express your style in a great pair of American jeans.

The American Manner

Americans are very informal behaving and interacting with one other in a casual manner. There is a time and place for formal behavior and dress which is scheduled and communicated to those involved.

It’s common for Americans to be on a first name basis.  This can be shocking to international guest.

Americans also have a relaxed posture while setting, walking and standing in a variety of casual postures. They will exercise good posture in a professional or formal settings.

Men and Women in American

Women interact freely with the opposite sex in both work and social situations easily taking the lead.

Women dress freely in America.

In American women ask men out and easily take on the lead role in relationships.

The American Reputation

While Americans may seem fickle and or lacking in several regards per the standards of non-Americans this is a result of the many freedoms they enjoy summing up the American lack of stringent or uptight  characteristics, all the things that spell freedom.

In truth Americans are free to think creatively with the freedom to implement change in their lives at any given time.

This makes Americans a constant source of contradiction to other countries while Americans love and embrace their lifestyle caring little if any at all about what others think.

If I had to nail down one description of an American I would say we are free spirited people constantly moving in a new direction with a passion and excitement for adventure and discovery.

American Humor

Only in America is an America show on the History Channel that explores what Americans are like and what makes them and their country great.

The cable guy is one of America's favorite comedians. He host a show called only in America. This is a great example of humor in America. Americans love a good time and laugh. Laughter is the best medicine. Enjoy a video below of the American show Only In America as seen on the History Channel. The American History Channel that is. 

America The Best Country in the World

Do you believe American is the best place in all the world?

No I don't for the following reasons;
sheilamarie on 01/17/2013

I have to agree with cazort. I am American born, but have lived elsewhere, too. Each country has its strengths and weaknesses.

cazort on 01/17/2013

I don't think any country is universally better than others. There are a lot of things about the U.S. that I love and there are a lot of things I don't. I think America has a lot of strengths, but also a lot of weaknesses and room to grow as a country.

Yes I do for the following reasons;
georgettejohn on 01/16/2013

Excellent article (by the way).

georgettejohn on 01/16/2013

America is home, therefore I see it as the best. And I agree with teddletonmr, it is not easy (but what is in life if one is truly living?) but it is good.

teddletonmr on 01/09/2013

American life is good, not easy, just simply good.

dustytoes on 01/09/2013

Yes, I love America. It is the land of the free and the home of the brave...still.

Updated: 01/19/2013, katiem2
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American Chat - What Do You Think about Americans

katiem2 on 01/23/2013

I know right! This is such a great show and you are right it covers facts and is funny, truly an American quality, exercising the right to laugh...

teddletonmr on 01/23/2013

The show Only in America is fantastic, good blend of truth and humor another great quality of Americans.

katiem2 on 01/18/2013

Frank, Thank You, that is exactly what I was attempting to do, explain what Americans are like.

katiem2 on 01/18/2013

sheilamarie, Very well said and a truth about our beloved country I feel many of us are concerned with. :)

Frank on 01/18/2013

A really nice discription of an American. I think your point was to describe what Americans are like and you have done so very clearly. I travel to Japan often. Asian people try to understand what it is to be American. It is important for business relations. Americans vary a great deal on the surface expressing their individality therefore confusing the foreign on looked trying to understand Americans. This is a greag universal description of the similarities that make Americans American unique to this country. Welll Done!

sheilamarie on 01/17/2013

Again, cazort has expressed some very important points. I think the media has tried very hard to paint all Americans as insatiable consumers (following some savvy advertisers). However, generosity of spirit is equally an American characteristic. There's more to America and Americans than the stereotypes that people in other countries pick up from the movies and T.V. I believe as human beings we have more to unite us than divide us in actual fact. Within the United States there are people who originate from most places in the world, and each culture gives a slightly different flavor to the whole.

katiem2 on 01/17/2013

cazort, Very well said and great point. :)

cazort on 01/17/2013

I'm US born and raised, and have lived here my whole life. I have complex feelings about my country. I've traveled just a little bit to other countries, and I will say, I think the U.S. grasps multiculturalism and is more respectful of diversity than some countries. However, I think that certain aspects of the U.S. trouble me--sometimes I think the individualism is taken too far, and I dislike what I see as American consumer culture, which can be wasteful and materialistic.

I don't like it when people identify consumerism with the United States though--I think the U.S. is much more than its corporations and brand names, it's an incredibly diverse country, and I wish more people internationally would see it as multifaceted. I love America because of its diversity, and it saddens me when people abroad perceive the U.S. in terms of the elements of it that I do not like and am not proud of.

katiem2 on 01/13/2013

bri, lol glad to be of service and thanks for the referral.

Guest on 01/13/2013

I'm faced with this nearly every day. As an American living abroad people often ask me why Americans do "insert activity" or believe "insert belief" or vote for "insert political party" and it's exhausting. I'm just going to send them to this page now. :)

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