Americans have a reputation around the world for unhealthy habits like working too hard and eating too much fast food. These “normal” American behaviors still surprise many foreigners.
People from societies that are more formal than America are struck by the informality of American speech, dress and posture. People are also often astonished that store clerks and waiters greet them by their first name.
The American ideal of self-sufficiency is based on the belief that people have the right to individual freedom, equality of opportunity, and the promise of material success. However, these rights come with substantial responsibility: the willingness to work hard.
To be fully self-sufficient, you would need to produce all your own food and make your own tools. This is not an ideal that most Americans want to pursue, although it is certainly possible.
Using longitudinal data, we used logistic regression analyses to examine the association between contextual factors (i.e., risk behaviors and sickness absence) and overall self-sufficiency across ten life domains at baseline and follow-up among emerging adults attending intermediate vocational education. Results showed that lower levels of self-sufficiency were associated with increased risk behaviors and worse health status.
One of the most basic American values is self-reliance. Americans believe that they have a right to freedom, equal opportunity, and the promise of material success. However, they also believe that these rights come with responsibilities, including self-reliance and hard work.
While a person may receive financial support from family or the government, it is generally expected that they will eventually become financially independent. This is also true of other forms of support, such as emotional support.
Children and teens can learn self-reliance by developing an internal locus of control, a process in which they are aware of what is within their control and take positive action. They can also practice self-reliance by setting achievable goals and then rewarding themselves when they achieve them (Bandura, 1997). This is a great way to help kids develop a sense of competence and mastery.
Individualism is an aspect of culture that captures the extent to which people feel mentally and habitually empowered to make their own choices. It can be contrasted with collectivism, which refers to the degree to which a person’s behavior is guided by norms and attitudes rather than by individual preferences (Hofstede 1980).
People in an individualistic culture tend to believe that they are responsible for their own actions and should not need help from others. They also believe that if they work hard, they will reach their personal goals independently.
Prior research indicates that a high level of individualism can undermine the effectiveness of government-initiated restrictions during a pandemic. Daily instrumental variable regressions of confirmed cases and deaths with country-level fixed effects show that a higher value for individualism is associated with less effective measures such as social distancing or mobility restrictions.
The United States is one of the most advanced industrialised nations in the world and is a global leader in many business fields such as food processing, telecommunications, motor vehicles and aerospace. It is a diverse country with hundreds of distinct ethnic, cultural and religious groups as a result of large-scale European immigration and hundreds of years of Native American and African-American slavery followed by emancipation. Americans as a whole are competitive and believe that the best way to get ahead is by beating out your rivals.
The values of individualism, self-reliance, and competition form a tight fabric that is woven into the fabric of America. They weave together to create the American Dream-the belief that if you take responsibility for your own life, work hard and smart, and believe in yourself, you can achieve whatever you want in life.
Podhoretz was one of the few writers who understood that ambition is an essential element in the American culture. He saw that the country is suffused with a desire to succeed, and that this drive can be good or bad.
Researchers have studied how different factors shape people’s ambition and career goals, but these studies have often relied on ad hoc items that measure context-specific expressions of ambition rather than its theoretical conceptualization as a general disposition. Our study developed a new 5-item scale that assesses ambition using this conceptualization and provides concurrent and discriminant validity evidence.