Finnish university students have higher opinion of Russians than of Americans
Finnish and Bulgarian students questioned on attitudes and European identity
Finnish university students have been found to have a lower opinion of US citizens than of Russians.
According to a survey on national perceptions and identity, 20.6% of the Finnish respondents had a positive view of Russians, and 47.7% had a negative view. The survey was part of a joint study by the University of Jyväskylä in Finland and the University of Sofia in Bulgaria.
Americans got a positive rating from 15.3% of the Finns, and a negative rating from 54.7% of respondents.
Perceived negative traits of Russians included a lack of responsibility and trustworthiness. On the positive side, many of the Finnish respondents saw Russians as friendly, cheerful, and hospitable.
Americans were seen by many to be self-centred and arrogant. On the positive side, they were also perceived as friendly, socially outgoing, polite, and hard workers.
The most positively perceived were Estonians, Swedes, and Germans.
Among the Bulgarian students, Germans, Finns, and Russians were the favourites, while Americans, Greeks and Turks ranked lowest.
The study was conducted in the winter of 2004. In both Bulgaria and Finland, 200 students, mostly between the ages of 20 and 25, were given questionnaires.
The Finnish respondents were much more sceptical of the notion of a common European identity than the Bulgarians, 56.5% of whom felt that such an identity exists, while 67.5% of Finns felt that there is no such thing.
The respondents were also asked about their knowledge of each other’s countries. Slightly fewer than half of the Finns were able to place Bulgaria on the map of Europe. Romania, Hungary, Albania, and even Portugal were included among countries chosen by the Finnish students.
Slightly more than half of all Bulgarians were able to put Finland in the right place on a blank map, although some placed Finland in Sweden, Norway, or Russia, and one even chose Ireland.
In both cases, this geographical inexactitude rather lends the lie to boasts that Europeans are more au fait with such matters than Americans - who are often criticised for being unable to locate other countries or recognise foreign leaders.