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Common American Values

You are probably already familiar with many American values, even if you have never visited the U.S. before.  However, there may be a few aspects that you have not been exposed to yet.   As you read through the list, it will be natural for you to think about how these values may resemble or differ from your own culture.


A common thread among most American values is individualism, or the idea that people are independent and driven by personal interests. Americans tend to view themselves first and foremost as individuals, with both freedom and responsibility to manage their own lives, set their own goals, and make their own decisions. For these reasons, people are held individually accountable for their actions. Of course, family and friends are also important, but the priority is often placed on the individual. Americans tend to be less comfortable when they are obligated to or dependent on others. This notion is also the foundation of America's legal system and protected rights and freedoms.

Importance of Time

Think of American sayings such as “time is money”, “don’t waste my time”, and others. These sayings express how Americans value time: as a limited commodity. Being "on time" or arriving at the designated time for class or a meeting is often very important.

Work Ethic

Americans place a high value on hard work and a strong work ethic. This is why many Americans work longer hours and take less vacation than most other countries. It is believed that people will achieve results based on how hard they work and, once those results are met, they will take personal credit for the accomplishments. Americans tend to judge others in how hard they work and how task-orientated they are.


Productivity and achievement are very important in American society. Individuals evaluate themselves and others in terms of their achievements and accomplishments.

Direct Communication and Problem-Solving Style

Generally, Americans value clear and factual communication. Of course, this can vary depending on the individual, but overall you will find that Americans will choose to be direct, even if it means hurting or embarrassing another person.