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National Values

  • Date Submitted: 10/12/2015 11:43 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.1 
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Most Americans would have a difficult time telling you, specifically, what the values are which Americans live by. They have never given the matter any thought.
Even if Americans had considered this question, they would probably, in the end, decide not to   answer in terms of a definitive list of values. The reason for this decision is itself one very American value - their belief that every individual is so unique that the same list of values could never be applied to all, or even most of their fellow citizens.
Although Americans may think of themselves as being more varied and unpredictable than they actually are, it is significant that they think they are. Americans tend to think they have been only slightly influenced by family, church or schools. In the end, each believes, "I personally chose which values I want to live my own life by."

Despite this self-evaluation, a foreign anthropologist could observe Americans and produce a list of common values which would fit most Americans. The list of typically American values would stand in sharp contrast to the values commonly held by the people of many other countries.

If foreign visitors really understand how deeply ingrained these values   are in Americans, they will then be able to understand 95% of American actions - actions which might otherwise appear "strange", "confusing", or "unbelievable" when evaluated from the perspective of the foreigner's own society and its values.

The different behaviors of a people or a culture make sense only when seen through the basic beliefs, assumptions and values of that particular group. When you encounter an action, or hear a statement in the United States which surprises you, try to see it as an expression of one or more of the values listed in this booklet. For example, when you ask Americans for directions to get to a particular address in their own city, they may explain, in great detail, how you can get there on your own but may never even consider walking a...


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