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Europeans on Europeans.
July 10, 2004 1:47 AM   Subscribe

Europeans on Europeans. Reader's Digest dispatched researchers to 38 towns in 19 countries across Europe, from the UK to Russia, inviting nearly 4,000 respondents to comment on any country but their own. Italians finished as "most liked," Germans as "least liked," Belgians as the "least sexy," and Paris triumphed as "favorite European city." The full results can be seen here. (PDF)
posted by Ljubljana (39 comments total)

 
(via @rgumente)
posted by Ljubljana at 1:49 AM on July 10, 2004


A young man in Prague explained that he liked the French least "because of their bloated patriotism".

I can think of another country like that..... Home of the Freedom(r) fries.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:19 AM on July 10, 2004


Seeing the vote for food, I'd have to say the respondents are not very reliable in their knowledge. This is reflected in their low opinion of Belgian food with high opinion of French. A great deal of what the world calls "French" cooking originates in Belgium. I think this reflects more on the average ignorance than legit opinion.

Quite fascinating though, and a great post!
posted by Goofyy at 3:24 AM on July 10, 2004


You like me! You really like me!
*breaks down crying*
posted by matteo at 3:51 AM on July 10, 2004


Great post! And I mainly agree with the results... I was surprised that Spain finished so high in many categories but I guess we are sexy and sweet, ha!. Actually, the category that Spain didn't finish high in "Rudest" was the biggest shocker. Europeans should spend more time in Madrid or Castilla y Leon (central northern region - the heart of the old Spanish Empire) or parts of Cataluña to really experience some brilliant rudeness.

I can't wait to send this article to my Belgian friends 0% sexy!!
posted by sic at 3:52 AM on July 10, 2004


[this is good]
posted by dg at 4:03 AM on July 10, 2004


The individual responses per country would be more interesting than the aggregate results shown. This chart may be more enlightening.
posted by ikalliom at 4:06 AM on July 10, 2004


Europeans don't like each other? This will come as a total surprise to anyone who missed the last 2 world wars.
posted by spazzm at 4:15 AM on July 10, 2004


Belgians as a whole aren't especially sexy. But individually they can be the best. (I am married to a Belgian, so that is proof)
posted by Goofyy at 4:21 AM on July 10, 2004


"The sexiest people have to be the Italians. They know they're sexy, which is annoying, but it makes them even more attractive."

ROFLMFAO. *wipes eyes* Oh so true, right up until the point when you find out they still live with the 'rents and any ensuing steamy clenches will be fogging the windows of their car. Tongue Planted Firmly in Cheek Clichè valid only for Italians under the age of 35. Void where prohibited.
posted by romakimmy at 5:46 AM on July 10, 2004


Great! Let's reinforce stereotypes with pseudo-scientific surveys! That's really going to reinforce camaraderie and understanding between the states.
posted by PigAlien at 6:30 AM on July 10, 2004


How is this analysis any more "pseudo" scientific than any other survey-based analysis? The only thing that's "out of line" with this is the misguided level of seriousness with which you are looking at a rather light-hearted exercise...

(As Anectdotal as They Wanna Be: from the perspective of an Outsider from the Land of Where Freedom Reigns (tm), these results are consistent with what I've experienced as a frequent business traveler throughout Western Europe over the past 10 years or so. Personally, I think the Spanish have it all over the Italians as Sexiest - all the same great looks, none of the Gods-Gift-to-Everyone-Else attitude, but Italian food rocks and, hey, I've never met a German I'd even want to get to know, let alone liked (I suppose it doesn't help that whenever I hear German spoken, I have to conciously remind myself that no, that person is not about to vomit their lunch, that's how they communicate with one another...) Oh, well, what do I know, where I live we elect Certifiable Cretins to be Head of State, so I guess you could say, My Peoples' Judgement Ain't All That...)
posted by JollyWanker at 7:13 AM on July 10, 2004


Seeing the vote for food, I'd have to say the respondents are not very reliable in their knowledge. This is reflected in their low opinion of Belgian food with high opinion of French. A great deal of what the world calls "French" cooking originates in Belgium. I think this reflects more on the average ignorance than legit opinion.

Except they were talking about what the food actually tasted like in each place. Regardless of origins or influences or whatever, people know what they like and that's what this was about
posted by Space Coyote at 7:36 AM on July 10, 2004


I've met many a friendly likable german, enjoyed terrific Belgian food and beer as well as Swedish, though I'm not to keen on Dutch cusine, I like stampot tho, had a hoot in Helsinki, laugh the most with Norweigans and think asking 4000 dolts from 19 different countries proves zilch but their own stereotypes. Did they ask 210.52 people from each country or did 500 Englishmen answer this survey? Did these people travel to all the countries they were asked about?
posted by dabitch at 7:42 AM on July 10, 2004


dabitch: If you read the article, you'd know the respondents weren't all Brits.

Space Coyote: You miss the point, dabitch got it. Do they even KNOW Belgian food? I wouldn't know it if my partner wasn't Belgian (helps his mother is a highly accomplished cook). EVERYONE knows "French" food, its haute cuisine everywhere. Belgium is a little place you can drive through without hardly noticing.

As for stereotypes: If people treat them as humor, what's the big deal? In the NYC area they are big on these old-world stereotypes, but most treat them as humor, not fact. And some of them aren't stereotypes, but traits in which they take pride (maybe even when invalid).

And then there are those things which simply don't work well across cultures. Like German "rudeness" isn't rude to a German. British courtesy can annoy the shit out of a German! Everyone laugh! Isn't it nice we're not all the same?
posted by Goofyy at 8:02 AM on July 10, 2004


Stroopwaffelen. 'Nuff said.
posted by bingo at 8:08 AM on July 10, 2004


Just about the worst food and just about the least sexy, but the best sense of humour. These are not unconnected I feel.

Mmm, stroopwaffelen ;)
posted by carter at 8:16 AM on July 10, 2004


Sense of humor my ass. The only people who can distinguish between stereotypes and the real thing are people who have the opportunity to experience both. Unfortunately, few people have truly had the opportunity to experience both well enough to distinguish one from the other. Children are particularly prone to the influence of stereotyping.

Won't someone think of the children?

Why do you hate Europe?

Real cultural differences have nothing to do with stereotypes. You can dismiss stereotypes without dismissing cultural diversity. By the way, I'm German - NOT!
posted by PigAlien at 8:41 AM on July 10, 2004


[this is good]

Here go my prejudices and stereotypes (I've been to all countries mentioned below except Turkey):

Favourite Europeans? The Dutch. Open-minded, relaxed, progressive. Least-liked Europeans? Austrians. What can you expect of a country that looks like a Schnitzel. Best humour? The British, no doubt. Best food? Italy. If Turkey was in the EU I'd give them an extra point for their Doener Pide. The sexiest Europeans? Swedish women! Most open-minded? Netherlands. The rudest Europeans? Well, the Germans do have a problem with their harsh language, no doubt. There are lots of negative attributes I could assign to Germans, but I don't think they are remarkable ill-mannered. Most efficient? The Swiss maybe. I'd like to live in Ireland or Scotland once I retire. Favorite Nationality? I don't care, but I sometimes envy the Swiss for it's neutrality and direct democracy (which is of course only possible because of the country's dimensions). Since I can't figure out which country has contributed most to the world I choose Greece for Homer's Odyssee. UK comes to my mind for some excellent scientists. My favorite European city is Edinburgh, followed by Amsterdam. Let me conclude that I adore Europe for its variety.
posted by tcp at 9:08 AM on July 10, 2004


By the way, I'm German - NOT!

You, my good fellow, have my utmost respect for that disavowal, as without said disavowal I do believe you would singlehandedly double the GNP of Stereotypical German Anal Retentiveness, causing millions of impressionable young children to grow to adulthood erroneously believing Germans to be the Universal Champions of Carbon Transformation (Anal Class).

You sir, have done both the Germans and children a grand favour in one fell swoop and I salute you for it.
posted by romakimmy at 9:11 AM on July 10, 2004


i agree about the belgian food, it is wonderful, defined here as: french food in dutch portions.

the unsexyness probably gets a low score for all the EU Commision people, who are deeply unsexy, and doexn't allow for that most gorgeous of Belgians, Audrey Hepburn.
posted by quarsan at 11:04 AM on July 10, 2004


500 British respondents doesn't 4000 people make, I wasn't suggesting they were all British, I was just noticing the lack of quotes from anyone in Scandinavia, so perhaps one Euro-country had more respondents than others? (Or did they ask 210.52 people in each country? odd number don't you think?) I'm having a hard time understanding where the respondents are from in that pdf file.
posted by dabitch at 11:27 AM on July 10, 2004


Did they ask anyone in Luxemburg? ;) Poor guys are always forgotten.
posted by dabitch at 11:29 AM on July 10, 2004


Backhanded complements to various Europeans:
Friendly Italians will feed you until you die.
Germans are the nicest people to get into auto accidents with (for fear of 100k Euro fines and injections of anti-anxiety Valium from paramedics.)
Poles are busy trying to be the good part of what Germans used to be. In novels, at least.
Austrians. Three things: ballroom dancing, deadly pastries, and slacking off.
The Czechs are becoming what Hollywood wanted everybody else to think it was.
The Swedes are the world's main consumers of hair bleach. Keeping up appearances. (Insert Lutekefish joke.)
The French, they are a funny race. Parlez-vouz.
The Spanish refuse to admit they are.
The Dutch are increasingly hard to find.

And the English, who are actually the Irish, should stop taking self-esteem classes and just accept who they are.
posted by kablam at 11:46 AM on July 10, 2004


dabitch, it was a bank holiday and they couldn't find anyone to answer the survey
posted by quarsan at 11:52 AM on July 10, 2004


PigAlien: Great! Let's reinforce stereotypes with pseudo-scientific surveys!

Anything from Reader's Digest needs deconstructing in relation to its known political agenda: Christian, right-wing, anti-EU.
posted by raygirvan at 2:33 PM on July 10, 2004


And then there are those things which simply don't work well across cultures. Like German "rudeness" isn't rude to a German. British courtesy can annoy the shit out of a German!

To stress the point that everything is relative, Germans tend to find it rude that Britons (and Americans) address everyone by their first name, no matter what the circumstance is.
posted by Slothrup at 3:03 PM on July 10, 2004


Metafilter: Let's reinforce stereotypes with pseudo-scientific surveys!
posted by abcde at 3:05 PM on July 10, 2004


This is terrible.
No results from: San Marino, Vatican City, Andorra, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Channel Islands, Isle of Man.
Who cares about Luxemburg (they are really Germans anyway.)

,dave
posted by davebarnes at 3:06 PM on July 10, 2004


Six citizens of Poland, Hungary, Portugal and Sweden plumped for Manchester

And one of them woz me! Finally, all these years of listening to Joy Division have taken their toll.

No, but it's quite true that Italy is by far the best country in everything that really matters. Britain is a great country but best received by post. Take away the books newspapers, journals and magazines; the hampers from Fortnum and Mason's; DVDs - the programmes via cable and the Internet (radio, TV, Pleppy and Biffers) and what's left is easily covered by an annual extended holiday. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:26 PM on July 10, 2004


European stereotypes always seem to identify what a country values, not what really characterizes it.

I love British comics, writers and celebrities, but find English people admire comedy because they are just too stiff to be funny. Humour is recognized, admired and enjoyed, but not that wide spread.

Danes and Norwegians, who have no tradition of comedy, but admire very dark serious movies and books (to put it mildly), are a hoot to talk to. I've had more fun in Copenhagen than almost anywhere. Germans can be pretty rude, but they would never think of flushing a toliet after 9 pm, or forgetting to thank you for each and every piece of change.

I'm just sayin'. Any thoughts Europeans?
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:36 PM on July 10, 2004


In my few years of traipsing around Europe, the only place where I found people to be actively unpleasant was Italy. I've long wanted to go back and see if that time was just a statistical fluke or not...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:31 PM on July 10, 2004


How very weird, Stav! I've been at least a dozen times, North and South, West and East and I have not one single complaint. On the contrary, people were always very friendly, talkative and generous - never smarmy or on automatic-pilot. They also put up with my highly questionable Italian and understood every garbled sentence immediately. Also, coming from a melancholy country like Portugal, everyone seemed so high-spirited, even happy.

My second wife was Italian, from a poor family in Gallinaro, near Rome, so I saw a lot of the "real" Italy as well and have to report it's exactly like the "tourist's" Italy. My Italian friends say that if I stayed more than three months I'd soon find that people would be less welcoming but somehow I don't really believe them.

Were you wary and suspicious, in fear of being taken for a ride or made fun of or even slightly patronizing? They hate that. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:53 PM on July 10, 2004


Who cares about Luxemburg (they are really Germans anyway.)

Hey, I'm from Luxembourg! (And I don't think you'd be overly popular with that statement around here - but at the same time, we're so used to other people thinking this is the case, and then explaining to them why it isn't, that you'd hardly upset anyone with it.)

But yes, I think the answers from Luxembourgish people would be interesting - for one, we're one of the most "international" European countries, with over 30% of our inhabitants not having Luxembourgish passports, and over 100,000 people coming into the country from the neighboring regions in Belgium, France and Germany to work here every day (compared to around 450,000 people living here). Also, up until recently, Luxembourg didn't offer any complete university courses, so anyone wanting to do serious studies beyond highschool had to go study in another country.

On any regular day, any typical person working in Luxembourg might talk four different languages, and deal with people coming from at least five or six different European countries.

I think many people in the poll quoted above responded without ever having been to the country they judged. Furthermore, I think in bigger countries such as France or Germany, there's a tremendous difference of attitude, behaviour (and also appearance) between the capital and the parts of the country that are further away from it.

All this to say that any such poll will necessarily be biased and based on imperfect information. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're reading it for entertainment or to confirm clichés that you've heard in jokes about a thousand times - but nobody should make any travel plans or chose his future place to live based on anything like this, but get out there and experience the places on his own. Maybe a lot of people who voted unfavourably on one place, and spoke in high tones of another would be in for quite a surprise.
posted by ckemp at 1:14 AM on July 11, 2004


I love British comics, writers and celebrities, but find English people admire comedy because they are just too stiff to be funny. Humour is recognized, admired and enjoyed, but not that wide spread.
Word.

I currently live in England (the 4th country I've lived in in 30 years) and I've never met such humourless people in my life. I find it kind of depressing living here.
posted by maggie at 10:11 AM on July 11, 2004


maggie: Then why don't you fuck off somewhere else then?

I'm with dabitch. This could have been done far better.
posted by i_cola at 4:01 PM on July 11, 2004


I'm surprised nobody's added this old joke, which fits reasonably closely with the survey (unsurprisingly). Just in case anybody hasn't seen it before...

HEAVEN is where
the police are British,
the cooks are French,
the drivers are German,
the lovers are Italian,
and it is all organized by the Swiss.

HELL is where
the cooks are British,
the drivers are French,
the police are German,
the lovers are Swiss,
and it is all organized by the Italians.
posted by ramakrishna at 10:28 PM on July 11, 2004


I love British comics, writers and celebrities, but find English people admire comedy because they are just too stiff to be funny. Humour is recognized, admired and enjoyed, but not that wide spread.
Word.

I currently live in England (the 4th country I've lived in in 30 years) and I've never met such humourless people in my life. I find it kind of depressing living here.


This is nonsense. Wit is like a sport in Britain and it's something that everyone is expected to participate in. There are 3 types of people who are mistrusted over here: people who don't drink, people who are overtly religious and people who can't tell a joke. If a conversation lasts for more than one minute without some kind of humorous content people get twitchy.

I don't know who you've been mixing with gesamtkunstwerk and Maggie, but you're not describing my country.
posted by Summer at 8:44 AM on July 12, 2004


It's entirely possible they're the butt of a long-running funny-foreigner joke that they haven't been let in on yet.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:06 PM on July 12, 2004


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