I know you are but what am I?

National stereotypes are fun!

It’s nice to see that essentialism hasn’t gone out of style in the UK:

Indeed, Estonia’s success has excited other countries. President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, for example, is a huge fan of Estonia, and based his policies of deregulation, low taxes and privatisation explicitly on policies pioneered by Estonia in the 1990s. Scores of Estonians have spent time in Georgia, advising on everything from anti-corruption efforts to spy-catching.

The temperaments could hardly be more different: Estonians are reserved, unhierarchical and efficient. That makes them excellent team players—one reason why Estonia’s public institutions are the strongest and cleanest in the ex-communist world. Georgians, by contrast, are emotional, status-conscious and individualistic. This leads to a rather different style of work, to put it mildly. But opposites attract: Estonians and Georgians get on splendidly (much more so, in fact that either country does with its immediate neighbours).

The editors of The Economist clearly are not up on the latest research.

National Character Does Not Reflect Mean Personality Trait Levels in 49 Cultures

Most people hold beliefs about personality characteristics typical of members of their own and others’ cultures.

These perceptions of national character may be generalizations from personal experience, stereotypes with a “kernel of truth,” or inaccurate stereotypes. We obtained national character ratings of 3989 people from 49 cultures and compared them with the average personality scores of culture members assessed by observer ratings and self-reports. National character ratings were reliable but did not converge with assessed traits. Perceptions of national character thus appear to be unfounded stereotypes that may serve the function of maintaining a national identity.

But what can you expect from a bunch of crooked-toothed, stiff-upper-lipped, hedgehog-fancying, brolly-carrying, tea-drinking, cricket-playing, schoolmate-buggering, phlegmatic, gout-suffering dipsomaniacs


And don’t get me started on the Belgians.