Hungarians are not welcoming but grumpy all the time; do not ask them for advice because they will mislead you…have you heard any of these lately? Well, we have, and do not have the slightest idea why there is so much misinformation about a country.

A happy Syrian student posted a cheerful post in the ‘Hungary Expats’ group on Facebook: he shared his view about how Hungary is misleadingly characterized as a country full of people who are pessimistic, not helpful and unfriendly.

According to him, this is all false: “Hungarians are humble and proud people with so much dignity and I can say I love them!” – he writes in the post.

reputation hungarians

Others have also shared their experiences in the comment section:

“Many people have bad opinions about Hungarians and the Country itself due to their politicians but the reality is totally different…” – writes Radhia.

Cristina agrees with the writer of the post: “I agree Adnan Samman. Obviously, you will meet eventually people in bad moods someday …but tell me where in the world you can not find that.”

Katherine says she “had nothing but Hungarians being really really nice to me. Some of the jolliest people I’ve ever met.”

But why do people think Hungarians are pessimistic?

According to a survey, foreigners usually think that Hungarians are honest (maybe too honest sometimes) and well-mannered but not exactly optimistic. Well, there may be some truth in that: it turns out from the World Happiness Report 2018 that Hungarians do find the touch of grey in every silver lining. Hungary takes the not-so-elegant 69th place on the list, considering countries such as Moldova (67th), Kosovo (66th), and even Kazakhstan (60th) are ahead of us in how satisfied they are with their lives.

hungary report happiness
World Happiness Report 2018

Hungarians do have some things to worry about, such as the concerning political climate or the ever-worsening state of Hungarian health care, but it is not true that Hungarians are overall unfriendly and pessimistic.

Since tourism is flourishing, there are more and more foreigners coming not only to Budapest but to other cities in the countryside, too, so there cannot be that many problems with Hungarians’ attitude towards visitors. Also, besides being affordable and safe, foreigners said in a recent study that they appreciate Hungarians’ friendliness.

What about stereotypes?

Several sets of stereotypes exist about most countries: Americans are allegedly loud, all Canadians are extremely polite and kind, while Italians are seen as extremely gesticulating people.

These stereotypes might be funny up until a point but let us admit: there is not much empirical and scientific evidence behind them.

Although stereotypes can be useful when talking to another person, they are over-generalized beliefs and one can falsely assume too many things based on them. They also facilitate and encourage prejudice in our everyday life and more serious decisions, too.

There is another problem with stereotypes: they almost always focus on the negative side of things.

It would be so much easier to consider things from the positive side. For instance, when foreigners say that Hungarians are too ‘resourceful’, we could remind them that it may be our natural creativity and inventiveness. Or, when they say we eat too much fat and paprika, let us make them taste our wonderful meals. And when they say we argue a lot, let us explain that we are not insincere but simply insist on our true opinions.

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1 comment
  1. Here in Canada, Hungarians are not trustworthy. See Steve Horvath. ( Steve’s casting in Oshawa)

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