French and British are `psychologically opposite'

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The Independent Online
PSYCHOLOGISTS MAY have finally found a reason for the age-old animosity between the French and the British.

They have identified big differences in the national personalities of the two nations in a new study which classes the French as neurotic introverts, while the British are stable extroverts.

In the study of national neuroticism and extroversion covering 33 countries, the French and the British rank at opposite ends of the league table. While the French are the second most neurotic nation, the British are one of those afflicted least with a neurosis.

The French emerge as neurotic introverts, a condition which is linked to high rates of anxiety, phobias, hypochondria, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Germany and Austria, on the other hand, are classed as neurotic extroverts.

The study, by Professor David Lester, used social indications from each of 33 countries to put together a league table reported in the international journal Personality and Individual Differences, published by Oxford-based Elsevier Science.

Among the indicators used were suicide, alcohol consumption, accidents, divorce and crime rates. The report also says that a country's caffeine consumption is an indicator of national personality, which may partly explain why the tea-drinking UK and coffee-gulping USA are not neurotic nations.

Professor Lester, formerly of Cambridge University and now professor of psychology at the Richard Stockton College in New Jersey, said: "Caffeine production has been hypothesised to be associated with low national levels of neuroticism."

When all the ingredients from the 32 countries were put together and analysed, Hungary came out the most neurotic country, and the USA the most extrovert.

The least neurotic country was Egypt, followed by Turkey and the Dominican Republic. The least extrovert country was Spain, closely trailed by Portugal and Chile.



1 Hungary

2 France

3 Switzerland

4 Singapore

5 Austria

6 Denmark

7 Portugal

8 Belgium

9 Trinidad and Tobago

10 Germany



2 Canada

3 Sweden

4 New Zealand

5 Finland

6 Australia

7 Denmark

8 UK

9 Germany

10 Greece