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At Home and Abroad, Most People Agree That Americans Are Greedy and Arrogant Jerks

New Pew poll shows that in the 16 countries surveyed, a median of 54 percent associated arrogance with Americans.

Americans are arrogant and greedy, according to people both within and outside the country, a new Pew Research Center poll finds. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Americans are arrogant and greedy, according to people both within and outside the country. And, while Americans may believe themselves tolerant, that's not the opinion of many across the globe.

Those are some of the takeaways from a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday, which surveyed over 20,000 respondents in 16 nations.

Respondents were read a list of six traits—optimistic, hardworking, tolerant, arrogant, greedy, and violent—and asked whether they associated that quality with Americans.

Half or more of the respondents in 10 of the countries associated arrogance with people in the U.S. That opinion was held most widely in Greece, where 72 percent of respondents felt that way. Sixty-nine percent in Australia and Canada also made that trait association, while the country where the fewest people (34 percent) associated that characteristic with Americans was Poland.

In seven of the countries the majorities viewed Americans as greedy. Greece was where that association was felt most strongly (68 percent), while just 21 percent made that association in Italy.

Looking at the median of all countries, 54 percent associated arrogance with Americans, and 52 percent attributed greed to the population. A median of  48 percent think Americans are violent.

The majority of Americans also viewed themselves as arrogant (55 percent ) and greedy (57 percent).


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In six of the countries—Greece, Australia, Canada, the UK, Spain, and China—the majority associated Americans with being violent. Fewer than half—42 percent—of those within the U.S. said Americans are violent, though a partisan divide is clear. Democrats were far more likely to say Americans are violent (50 percent ) compared to Republicans (29 percent).

Here's how the positive qualities played out: Americans overwhelming considered themselves optimistic (74 percent) and hardworking (80 percent), and those abroad generally agreed with that depiction. Half or more of those in 14 out of the remaining 16 nations agreed that Americans are optimistic, and the majorities of those in 13 of the other 16 countries agreed that Americans are hardworking.

While 65 percent of Americans think of themselves as tolerant, that opinion is shared to a far lesser degree outside the nation. In only four other countries—Poland, Italy, Germany, and Japan—did the majorities consider Americans tolerant.

The new poll also found higher international ratings for Obama than for his predecessor, George W. Bush. Looking at the current presidential candidates, 59 percent of Europeans have confidence Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will do the right thing in terms of world affairs, and 27 percent no such confidence. Views on Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, in contrast, were far less favorable, with 85 percent lacking such confidence.

The survey conducted in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, Germany, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK took place April 4 to May 29, 2016.

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