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The Formation, Causes and Effects of National pride.

The Formation, Causes and Effects of National pride on an Individual, Group, and State

Level

Alden Q Barson

1A Global Connections

Tallwood High School Global Studies and World Languages Academy

Mr. Gregory Falls

December 8th, 2019


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 2

Abstract

This paper seeks to identity how pride forms at an individual, group, and national
level along with the most influential causes and effects of national pride in order to
determine its inherent nature. The discussion begins by clarifying some of the common
misconceptions about pride on an individual level and moves into classifying pride into
two different general categories, which is further developed later on when discussing the
difference between patriotism and nationalism. Then this paper focuses on how pride
manifests into a group setting by specifically examining the motivations and behavior of
the LGBT+ community. This is done to show the relationship between the group and
individual and how pride changes and remains the same as it progressively spreads to
more people. After this analysis the paper takes a broad look at levels of national pride
in different nations around the world and provides further insight through specific case
studies in the United States, Germany, and Japan respectively. This is done to highlight
the primary causes and effects of national pride in each nation. This paper concludes by
summarizing the main causes and effects of national pride and what implications pride
may have for the future.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 3

Table of Contents

Abstract 2

Table of Contents 3

Introduction 4

Limitations 6

Literature Review 8

Discussion 15
Definitions of pride and their common misconceptions 15
Pride on a group level and an in depth analysis of the LGBT+ community 20
Pride on a national scale: patriotism and nationalism 25
Levels of national pride in different countries 28
National Pride in the United States of America 31
Comparison Country: Germany 35
Comparison Country: Japan 40

Conclusion 44

References 48

Appendix A 52

Appendix B 53

Appendix C 54

Appendix D 55

Appendix E 56

Appendix F 57

Appendix G 58
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 4

Introduction

“Heck yeah I am! I wouldn’t change who I am for any reason at all!” Sara

Jefferson, a seventeen year old student in Richmond, Virginia, responded emphatically

when asked if she was proud of her Native American heritage. “I’m proud of who I am

because it sets me apart from the crowd… most people cannot claim such heritage and

because of that I think that’s reason enough to be proud.” Sara experiences extremely

high levels of pride when it comes to her ethnicity, and, as many people would argue,

she should. As a descendent of the Chickahominy tribe, both Sara and her ancestors

have experienced a lot of hardships including the massacres, displacements, and

cultural genocides that occured throughout American history beginning as early as 1622.

People of her ethnicity still feel the effects of these actions in their overcrowded,

poverty-ridden, and alcohol-infested reservations that they were forced onto. As a

result, people like Sara are very difficult to come by in modern American society (Sara

Jefferson, personal communication, Nov. 2nd 2019).

While Sara showed that she is very proud of her Native American heritage, she

showed a much more conflicted view when she was asked if she is proud to be an

American. “Yes and no. Yes because I have many opportunities that are open to me just

because I am an American, but also no because America has so many bad stereotypes,

like that we’re arrogant or stupid, that outweigh the good, and because we cannot really

break through that stigma, it is hard to take pride in that.” Clearly, Sara is experiencing

some cognitive dissonance when it comes to understanding and expressing her national
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 5

identity, even though the pride she took in her ethnic identity is quite clear (Sara

Jefferson, personal communication, Nov. 2nd 2019).

Compare this interview to the 2019 “​YouGov–Cambridge Globalism Project​”

survey, where Americans more than any other country in the world were more likely to

say that they live in “the best country in the world” (McCarthy 2019). If most Americans,

including Sara, acknowledge that they live in an amazing country with lots of

opportunity, why do some experience such mixed emotions when describing their

national pride?

As it turns out, certain people all around the world are experiencing a similar

struggle with national pride that Sara is. Although pride can take many forms and stem

from many different motivating factors, the fact remains that many people today have

trouble fully understanding why they should or shouldn't be proud of their nation. At

the same time, misconceptions and ignorance about the effects of national pride further

plaque many individual’s sense of pride towards their nation. Individuals often evaluate

their pride towards their nation based off of completely different factors than they do

towards other groups they are apart of, such as how Sara did with her Native American

identity. All of these nuances, misconceptions, and contradictions relating to the

concept of pride may not seem important on the surface, but in a collective group, pride

has the ability to completely change the social and political structure of a nation or

group. It would be nearly impossible to examine every single cause and effect of national

pride in the scope of one research paper, so only the most important and prominent

factors will be fully analyzed in this paper in order to determine if and why national
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 6

pride is a “good thing”. When defined in a healthy way on an individual, group and

national level, the most influential causes of national pride are a nation’s history and

accomplishments, and the most prominent effects include increased ingroup esteem and

a greater likelihood for citizens to uphold their civic duties.

Limitations

The first limitation of this study is the sample size regarding the survey and

interviews. Due to difficulty distributing the survey to other groups outside of Tallwood

High School, the survey responses were mostly limited to high schoolers. Similarly, the

interviews, although from a diverse sample, are relatively small in number and therefore

may not be a perfect representation of society today. They represent the views of only a

few individuals and cannot capture the complete and diverse scope of all individuals’

views on national pride. Additionally, the socioeconomic similarity between the

residents attending Tallwood High school may not be ideally representative of the

higher and lower class echelons of society, even those living in Virginia Beach.

The next major limitation of this research paper is the limited number of case

studies regarding specific countries. Although the causes, effects, and expression of

national pride differs in every country, this research paper only examines the United

States, Japan, and Germany. This is due to the correlational causes and effects of each of

these countries and how the similarities and differences demonstrate the main points of

the research. Each of these three countries have distinct features that makes up their

national pride, and are consequently easier to analyze. Although each country has its
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 7

own unique factors that influence their patriotic profile, the United States, Germany,

and Japan best exemplify the overarching themes of this work. Additionally, ethnicities

and other identification groups fall into the same limitation of not being entirely

represented. This paper mainly focuses on the LGBT+ community because it effectively

illustrates the major effects that pride can have and how pride functions on a group

level. The scope of this paper would be far too large to capture the views of all the

national and ethnic groups in the world.

The third major limitation of this paper is the bias of the author. The author has

only lived in America throughout the duration of his life, and therefore has difficulty

fully understanding the viewpoints of those coming from other nations. The author does

have travel experience having been to Germany and Costa Rica. However, the

experience in these cultures is limited and therefore may not fully reflect the ideas of

these people. Additionally, as a member of the LGBT+ community, the author may

exhibit a bias towards supporting LGBT+ based pride. Finally, the author’s slightly

liberal bias may be apparent when discussing some of the conservative viewpoints

throughout the paper. The author tends to view social equality as an important issue

which has a relationship with national pride.

The final major limitation of this paper is that it may occasionally fall victim to

the historian’s fallacy. The historian’s fallacy is a logical fallacy that occurs when the

person analysing history views the decisions and decision makers in the past as having

the same perspective or information as those analysing the decision in the future. This

fallacy often obscures the logic and perspective of the historical decisions that were
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 8

made in the past and can make them seem irrational or nonsensical. Since this paper

dives into historical issues such as World War II, it is important to bear in mind that

historical references should be judged within the time frame that they occurred and with

the same perspective as the decision makers of the time.

Literature Review

Pride is a core emotion experienced in all humans. To some degree, all nations,

regardless of ethnicity or culture, experience pride in either high, modetrate, or

cripplingly low amounts. The following articles and concepts examine the causes and

effects of national pride in order to determine whether it is a healthy asset for a nation.

On an individual level, pride is often very difficult to define because individuals

have many differing definitions. Researcher Amodeo (2015) writes in the article “Why

Pride is Nothing to be Proud of” that pride is an inherently temporary emotion that is

purely linked to external achievement. As a result, pride will inevitably lead to

disappointment and should be limited in order to better understand one’s own identity.

In contrast, the article “Pride- feeling good about yourself” (n.d.), pride is described as

being an ​increase ​in stature, not necessarily indicative of a high level of stature. The

article also stresses that whether pride is good or bad depends primarily on the

motivating factors behind pride, not necessarily the amount of pride (Pride- feeling

good about yourself, n.d.). To make this distinction clear, the article categorizes pride

into two types: hubristic pride and authentic pride, each being primarily characterized

by the cognitive processes that motivate them (Pride- feeling good about yourself, n.d.).
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 9

In correlation with this, Herbert (2007) states in “The Two Faces of Pride” that

individuals with hubristic pride tend to view success as predetermined while individuals

with authentic pride view hard work as the key to success and accomplishment. These

sources are used to characterize the wide variety of definitions of national pride.

National pride has a specific set of criteria that people often fail to understand. In

the article “National Pride in Comparative Perspective”, researchers Kim and Seohko

defined national pride as “​...the cohesive force that both holds nation states together and

shapes their relationships with other states”(2006). Kim and Seohko further explained

that national pride is a direct result of positive identification with a nation. They also

stress the importance of differentiating patriotism from nationalism: patriotism is the “

love of one’s country or dedicated allegiance to the same”, while nationalism is “a strong

national devotion that places one’s own country above all others” (2006). Furthermore,

in a persuasive article called “Americans Should Embrace Patriotism”, political

scientists Cespedes, Haugen, Musser, and Chaney defined patriotism as ​“a dedication to

one's country and loyalty to the principles for which it stands” (Cespedes et. al 2014).

Cespedes emphasis that patriotism and national pride are one in the same and that

​ f a country rather than the


patriotism is truly about being proud of the ​ideals o

demographics. The article later states patriotism transcends all other forms of pride,

including individual achievement pride. This piece of information contradicts some

psychological research that was done examining the impact of different types of pride,

including achievement pride. As seen above, definitions of national pride vary, but there

seems to be a general consensus that patriotism is a positive emotion that emphasis


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 10

pride based on a country’s value while nationalism is a negative emotion that results

from believing that one’s country is superior to others.

Connecting national pride and individual pride is important to understanding

why some people are hesitant towards the idea of national pride. In an academic journal

titled “European Journal of Psychological Assessment”, a section titled “The

Achievement Pride Scales (APS)” helps explain the reason why pride exists and what it

does for the human psyche. Specifically, the article emphasizes the need for

achievement and sets the criteria that a person must have “perceived control and

perceived value” over an achievement to gain pride from it (Pekrun, Lichtenfeld, and

Buechner 2018). Also, the article later states that pride in individuals leads to “desirable

outcomes such as success and positive self-evaluation” (Pekrun et. al. 2018).

Furthermore, in the article “The Psychology of Pride”, author Mclatchie (2017)

differentiates between hubristic pride, or pride that manifests itself through arrogance

and conceit, and authentic pride, which promotes confidence and fulfillment. Mclatchie

(2017) goes on to later argue that these two forms of pride stem from the same core

emotion but are rather expressed through different types of behavior. Essentially, pride

is a core emotion fundamental to humans and is simply expressed in different ways, for

better or worse. The reason the above points are relevant to the main topic because they

explain many of the reasons why people in different countries are hesitant to express

their own national pride.

Looking at a real world example, the United States is a country that is notorious

for its national pride, from both a national and international lens. In the article
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 11

“Patriotism and Nationalism, Left and Right: A Q-Methodology Study of American

National Identity”, political psychologists Hanson and O’Dwyer studied how Americans

interpreted the idea of national identity. In their research, the two discovered that

Americans typically had a difficult time distinguishing between whether they defined

national pride on an ethno-cultural basis (on the basis of a common heritage) or on a

civic basis (on the basis of having a common purpose and shared goals) (Hanson,

O’Dwyer 2019). The same article included a research study where participants were

asked to rate both nationalistic and patriotic statemenets, and the study found that the

two groups were divided along party lines, republicans tending to favor nationalistic

statements and democrats favoring the more partriotic statements (Hanson et. al 2019).

Furthermore, in an article titled “US still outdoes all other countries for national pride”,

McCarthy (2019) found in a survey of 23 countries that Americans were the most likely

to say they lived in “the best country in the world”. The research further describes that

US pride still remains at a very high level, despite disagreement with current political

operations (McCarthy 2019). However, it seems that the rest of the world doesn’t agree

with Americans’ self image, with the three most common words being used to describe

the US being “economic success, bullying, and reckless” (McCarthy 2019). As seen

above, Americans tend to have very high levels on national pride, and many do not

differentiate between nationalistic and patriotic viewpoints.

Although many countries experience and express national pride in a wide variety

of ways, perhaps the most interesting case to analyse when it comes to national pride is

Germany. According to “Ambivalence, shame and shame: conceptualisation of German


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 12

nationhood”, many Germans have nuanced views about national pride and how to

express it (Rothenburg, Miller-Idriss 2012). For the most part, Germans do not feel nor

express pride towards their nation (Rothenburg, et. al 2012). This is due to a multitude

of factors, including German culture simply not promoting national pride and the

common belief Germans hold that one should only be proud of something they have

accomplished, and that “being born in Germany” is nothing to be proud of (Rothenburg

et. al 2012). Similarly, the article “A legal odyssey: denazification law, Nazi elite schools,

and the construction of postwar memory” attempts to explain the root of why Germans

experience so much shame when it comes to their national identity. Essentially, the

article examines how extreme nationalism during World War II lead to mass atrocities,

and how after the war ended Germans attempted to destroy all traces of nazisim as

instructed by the Marshall Plan (Mueller 2017). Coupled with American influence on

German education, the state of Germany began to instate educational curriculum which

pushed guilt and shame from past atrocities on to German students, which in turn lead

to a very depressed sense of pride (Mueller 2017). Continuing with this development,

Germany politics refused to promote national pride in the slightest form because

authorities feared it may stir another fascist movement. Germany is an interesting case

when it comes to studying why they have so little pride because there are many nuanced

causes.

Germany’s and Japan’s histories often get compared due to the shared atrocities

both countries committed during World War II. An article from the Japan Times called

“Patriotism and nationalism in postwar Japan” (2016) explains some of the effects that
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 13

World War II history has on current Japanese national pride. In “New Japan era name

echoes PM Abe's national pride agenda”, Sieg (2019) examined current levels of pride in

Japan and found that Japanese people tend to take pride in their traditional roots,

customs, and history. In “How has Japan's patriotism changed over the past half

century?”, Eiraku (2019) looked at how national pride has changed over the past half

century and used multiple similar questions in her survey in order to gain insight into a

possible causation of this pattern. Finally, in “What Losing a War Does to a Nation's

Psyche: Essay”, Porter (2019) describes some of the conflicted values Japanese people

feel about World War II and how it has been portrayed in their education system. These

academic articles are used to show Japan’s current state of national pride and how it

differs from Germany despite their comparable histories.

Understanding pride on a group level gives vital insight into how pride manifests

on a national level and how it relates to identity. McClendon (2014) conducted a

correlational study in order to figure out why LGBT+ pride parades have such a high

turnout. He found that people who participated in the LGBT+ community were

promised a feeling of “ingroup esteem”, which is essentially a sense of heightened

belonging to a group which has shared characteristics among its members.

Furthermore, the effects of this sense of pride included higher participation and

identification with the LGBT+ community (McClendon 2014). Such results are easily

comparable to those of national pride. During an exceptionally heightened period of

patriotism in 2011, researcher PJ Williams (2011) found that there was a correlation

between higher levels of patriotism and more participation in community service. It is


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 14

observed that during times of distress, such as 9/11, American pride is heightened and

consequently people are able to come together and support people that are complete

strangers to them (Williams 2011). Another important effect of national pride is that it

has the potential to completely shift current political systems. This has been

demonstrated a multitude of times throughout history such as during World War II, and

this can be attributed in part to the the ingroup effect (from national pride) leading to

higher participation in contentious politics (McClendon 2104). National pride at an

individual level has the ability to “influence attitudes towards political policy,

candidates, and levels of civic participation.” and on a group level can “have the

potential to shape domestic and foreign policy and define the boundaries of the

“imagined community” of a nation” (Hanson, et. al 2019). The effects of national pride,

and pride in general, have the potential to influence nations for better or worse.

Overall, while national pride is presented in vastly different ways across the

world, there are a few common patterns in both the causes and effects of national pride.

History and education often play the biggest role in forming national pride within the

citizens of a nation, and as a result countries tend to exhibit, to at least some degree, a

sense of in-group esteem that leads to more participation in the nation’s political

systems. With these in mind, the above resources collectively conclude that national

pride is an inherently positive concept, but the nuances of its true definition tend to lead

to polarization and misunderstanding despite its constant presence throughout the

world.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 15

Discussion

Definitions of pride and their common misconceptions

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it

than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being

above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone” (C.S. Lewis).

Considering that pride is one of the seven deadly sins, there is a lot of contention

regarding if pride is actually a “good thing”, especially when applied to a national level.

However, before one can form their own opinion and perspective about pride, one must

first understand what pride is on a conceptual and psychological level.

This is easier said than done, considering that the definition of pride various from

source to source. Merriam-Webster dictionary has two definitions of pride, the first

stating that pride is a “positive feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be

respected by others.” The second definition describes pride as a “feeling that you are

more important or better than other people” or contain an “in-ordinate amount of

self-esteem” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Even within a single source, the

fundamental definition of pride varies dramatically in regards to its connotation.

Other sources often identify pride in a positive or negative connotation, rarely

accrediting any nuance to the definition. Amodeo (2015) described pride as being driven

by shame and poor self-worth. In essence, pride stems from being too attached to the

gratification people from accomplishments as a result of not feeling secure in one’s self.

Amodeo (2015) found that people feel so poorly about themselves that they project a

false image of who they are that is meant to put others down in order to mask their own
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 16

insecurities. Pride has a misconception of being a form of “healthy self-worth”, however

pride’s true nature is that it ties one’s accomplishments and self-image onto external

circumstances. Pride will inevitably lead to misery if it becomes the basis for defining

one’s identity (Amodeo, 2015).

A source that saw pride in a more positive light attributed five key criteria in

defining pride, those being “Feeling good about yourself; a sense of accomplishment;

expression of competence; approving of your own actions or accomplishments; and

satisfaction of our assessment from an increase in stature.” The article “Pride-Feeling

good about yourself” emphasizes that pride indicates an ​increase ​in stature, not

necessarily a ​high-level​ of stature. Pride is a reason for individuals to feel as though they

are special, and because of these factors, pride is ​inherently temporary​ (Pride- Feeling

good about yourself. n.d.).

Comparing the various definitions of pride described above quickly reveal a

plethora of contradictions, contrivances, and perceptions about pride and how to define

it. The list of these inconsistencies would be endless if this research examined exactly

how each individual defines pride, but even with said unlimited nuances, there are a

number of common patterns and trends that illustrate where people tend to agree and

differ on their own definition of pride. To begin, all sources seem to inherently

acknowledge that pride is a core emotion: it is an innate primal feeling as much as it is a

result of cognitive evaluation. Additionally, it seems that all sources can agree that pride

manifests itself as an increase in one’s self-image, or at least the appearance of so. This

illustrates a general trend that people often agree on the signs and psychological nature
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 17

of pride, but tend to disagree on its causes and inherent nature. For example, Amodeo

(2015) attributed feelings and displays of pride to deep-rooted feelings of shame and

inferiority, while the second source stated that pride results directly from an increase in

stature as a result of accomplishment (Pride- Feeling good about yourself. n.d.).

The differences in these definitions is problematic. They create a dichotomy that

limits cognitive self-evaluation. These individual definitions either paint pride as

entirely positive or entirely negative, without allowing for any nuance. Furthermore,

other definitions provide limited nuance by explaining that high amounts of pride are

inherently toxic to those around them, but fails to provide a quantitative or qualitative

level to determine when pride exceeds ‘healthy’ levels. This is very important to

understanding the broader topic of this research paper because it illustrates why people

often have such a difficult time identifying, much less expressing, national pride. When

people feel like their sense of pride could be potentially harmful without fully

understanding at which point it actually is harmful, they tend to avoid the feeling

altogether. This comes directly as a result from the dichotomy of “good” and “bad” pride.

Similarly, when each individual has their own definition of what pride is, it becomes

very difficult to empirically determine what pride is. This trend of binary reasoning as

well as different definitions of pride on an individual and national level play a large role

in determining whether people are proud of their country or not and will be further

analyzed in this work.

For the sake of simplicity, this work will attempt to create a common definition of

pride that should be applied to the rest of the research and scenarios. Figure 1 provides a
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 18

chart of the various types of emotions that are associated with pride (see Appendix A,

Pride- Feeling good about yourself. n.d.). These are all derivatives of pride, but should

not ​be applied to a national level. As shown in the chart, these particular emotions

derive from how pride influences the individual’s esteem and how others perceive that

individual’s sense of pride. Because this paper examines only the internal factors and

perceptions of national pride, the way that other people and nations perceive a nation’s

sense of national pride, so many of the words used in appendix A will not be applicable.

The best way to describe and define pride is by looking at it in terms of

motivation and expression rather than perception. Pride is inherently socially oriented,

meaning that people feel pride based on what they perceive others will admire them for

(Mclatchie, 2017). Therefore, on an individual level, pride can be most simply broken

down into two forms based on what motivates it: hubristic and authentic pride.

Hubristic pride, in general, is motivated by accomplishment based on given

characteristics that make people feel they are better than others, such as being more

intelligent, more attractive, or even having a superior race or ethnicity (Mclatchie,

2017). Herbert (2007) found that people exhibiting hubristic pride tend to view their

success and accomplishments as pre-determined. This results in an expression of pride

that puts other people down in order to elevate their own sense of pride and the intrinsic

happiness that is associated with it (Mclatchie, 2017). Hubristic pride is often

considered a “social-shortcut” to achieving the sense of social belonging and acceptance

that authentic pride is meant to create (Herbert, 2007). On the other hand, authentic

pride is motivated by one’s drive to better themselves through accomplishments


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 19

(Herbert, 2007). Additionally, people exhibiting authentic pride also believe that success

is obtained through hard work, which may account for why they feel contentedness

while hubristic people feel shame (Herbert, 2007). Individuals with authentic pride

express their pride through confidence (Mclatchie, 2017). While this categorization is

not perfect because it does minimize some nuance, for the sake of simplicity, it is the

most effective way of categorizing the differences in national pride that will be further

developed in the rest of the paper.

The purpose of this portion of the discussion is to highlight two major points that

will become running themes. The first theme is that definitions of pride vary from

person to person and are riddled with nuance, but usually tend to fall into a “good” or

“bad” pride dichotomy. This makes it very difficult to define an entire nation’s sense of

pride, and may overgeneralize determining whether a nation’s pride is healthy or not.

The second major theme is that the core emotion of pride remains the same in all

individuals, but differs in respect to what motivates the feeling of pride and how it is

expressed. These are the factors that essentially distinguish between hubristic pride and

authentic pride: it is not that these two groups experience two different emotions, rather

the motivating factor behind their pride causes them to express it in contrasting ways.

Further research will attempt to use these principles to characterize national pride; and

as later shown, the similarities between hubristic and authentic pride on an individual

level and its national equivalent are nearly identical.


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 20

Pride on a group level and an in depth analysis of the LGBT+ community

Now that there is an established criteria for pride on an individual level, this

paper will examine how it manifests in a group setting. This portion of the paper will

focus on groups that are below the scope of a national level, but within a general far

reaching group within a nation. In this case, the LGBT+ community includes any

individual residing in the United States who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual,

transgender, asexual, queer, or any other gender or sexuality identity that is not straight.

For the sake of simplicity, straight allies of the LGBT+ community will be excluded,

although they certainly do play an important role.

Although Pride is inherently focused on the self, it has very little power on an

individual level (Buechner, Pekrun, and Lichtenfeld, 2018). As a result, humans have

developed a tendency to associate with other individuals who share similar

characteristics to them: pride included. Buechner et. al. found that people who are

proud of a specific characteristic or ideal often congregate together and act in highly

motivated, and sometimes radical ways (Kim and Seohko, 2006). This behavior is the

basis for the formation of the LGBT+ community. Members of the LGBT+ community

have one general trait in common: they are a sexual or gender minority. Many members

take pride in this fact for a myriad of reasons and occasionally display it in different

ways, one of the most notable being annual pride parades which occur all around the

United States. But as pride among groups such as the LGBT+ community runs high, so

too does misunderstanding from people outside of said group. A number of people may

question why LGBT+ members are proud of their orientation and what practical
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 21

benefits arise from these parades. Questions like these arising from groups like the

LGBT+ community mirror the cognitive dissonance experienced by individuals feeling

pride and foreshadows some of the issues that affect national pride. LGBT+ pride, and

group pride as a whole, is a result of shared characteristics and the overcoming of

adversity which causes a greater sense of in-group esteem and participation in

contentious politics.

When examining the causes of group-level pride, it is important to note that just

like individuals, group pride does not have a singular definition or form of expression.

That being said, group pride does tend to mirror the model of authentic and hubristic

pride discussed in the previous section. With motivation once again being the biggest

factor in determining pride, the pride of a group is ultimately formed by the motivation

of its individual constituents. A group such as the Klu Klux Klan would likely be

comprised of mostly hubristic individuals: white supremisits males who believe that

their race and heritage elevate them above others. But this section is meant to focus on

the LGBT+ community, which is generally made up of more individuals with authentic

pride (Mclatchie, 2017).

One misconception about LGBT+ pride that is sometimes used as an argument

against it is something along the lines of “If being gay is something people are born as,

why should they be proud of something they did not actually accomplish?” or “Straight

people should have a pride month too!”. Though potentially valid arguments on the

surface, both of these arguments equivocate the word pride by ignoring the motivation

and type of pride the LGBT+ community demonstrates. Individuals are not proud of the
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 22

fact that they were born gay; they are proud that they now have the courage and

freedom of expression to come out to people around them without fear of shame or

violence (Hanna, 2019). Additionally, LGBT+ pride is also motivated by a will to fight

against the close-minded people, institutions, and unfair laws that prevent minorities

from living in an equally opportune society. “​The motive has always been — and should

remain — political. A reminder to all outside and within the LGBT+ community of our

thorny relationship with police and the laws that aimed to dehumanize us” (Hanna,

2019). This is the reason that LGBT+ people are proud: not because they ​are​ a gender or

sexual minority, but rather because they now have the ​opportunity to openly​ ​be a

gender or sexual minority. Speaking of opportunity, history plays a big role in why the

LGBT+ community even exists at all. The first pride parade actually occurred as a result

of the 1969 Stonewall Riots (Hanna, 2019). The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in New

York that was one day raided by police for no apparent reason other than anti-gay

sentiment (Grinberg, 2019). The police were very brutal towards the homosexual

costumers, which prompted them to fight back against police (Grinberg, 2019). News

coverage of this event lead to other gay supporters joining the cause and creating their

own demonstrations around the country (Grinberg, 2019). One year later, the first ever

Pride Parade was held near the Stonewall in and as both a tribute and also as a rallying

point for LGBT+ people to fight against the oppressive laws and institutions

discriminating against them (Grinberg, 2019). Historically speaking, straight people

have not faced this same kind of conflict or daily oppression due to their sexuality. This

is what makes Pride parades so impactful and meaningful: they are fueled by historical
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 23

roots that take pride in the triumphes that the community has made while also

promoting gratitude that current LGBT+ people have an increased freedom of

expression. “It’s a time to honor how far we’ve come — but also how much further we

still need to go. So when straight people ask why there is a need for gay pride or wonder

why there aren’t straight pride celebrations, it feels a lot like they are saying

contributions by LGBT+ people — a minority group that faces constant adversity — are

simply not worthy of recognition. Further, they’re denying the importance and

significance of identifying as LGBT+ and achieving things — surviving, even — when the

odds are stacked against you” (Hanna, 2019). A survey conducted inside Tallwood High

school seems to support this idea. Respondents, consisting of students and teachers,

were asked if they thought if “events such as gay pride parades and woman’s marches

are pointless” and if “there should be a white history month, straight pride month,

and/or international men’s day”. The purpose of the survey was to see how people value

minorities’ expression of pride. The results showed that a majority of respondents either

disagreed or strongly disagreed with both of these statements (See Appendix B). This

possibly indicates that a majority of Americans understand that LGBT+ pride and other

minority group based pride is built upon authentic pride that pays tribute to the trials of

the past as well as what is to come.

Not only do LGBT+ pride parades pay homage to the community’s past and shed

light on some of the ongoing discriminatory issues, but they also promote a few other

positive benefits as well. The first of which being an increased feeling of in-group

esteem, or sense of belonging (McClendon, 2014). In general, the LGBT+ community is


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 24

more inclined to be inclusive to new members and not discourage any from identifying

with their community. Most members can empathise with the struggles and feelings of

fellow sexual or gender minorities and therefore are more inclined to be supportive and

encourage them to become a part of the community, whether that be through clubs,

pride parades, or even internet forums. This sense of belonging and inclusion promotes

a concept called in-group esteem, which is essentially a form of happiness that results

from belonging to a group (McClendon 2014). LGBT+ individuals feel that they have

other people that relate to them and therefore form a strong sense of community as a

result of this pride (McClendon, 2014). The second major benefit of LGBT+ pride and

authentic group based pride in general is increased participation in contentious politics.

Contentious politics can be loosely defined as any form of socio-political disruptive

action that is meant to make a point or change government action. The Stonewall riots

are a prime example of contentious politics, and many of the social reforms that have

taken place over the past century or so are a result of contentious political action. When

individuals are promised a sense of belonging and have a united sense of pride fueled

from dissatisfaction with current proceedings, they are more likely to become politically

active within the realm that they are dissatisfied with (McClendon, 2014). Pride ignites

passion, and when passion comes together on a group level, people are more likely to

become active in politics and fight for social and political change. This is not always a

positive thing, as some demonstrations of contentious politics involve violence, but at

the very least it promotes a greater sense of involvement with the political world.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 25

Beginning at an individual level, people are either motivated by authentic pride

or hubristic pride. Typically, if the motivating factor behind the individual’s pride was

earned through some form of hardship, they will experience authentic pride, and vice-

versa for hubristic pride (Mclatchie, 2017). Individuals with similar motivations will

form groups around their shared characteristics which further heightens their level of

hubristic or authentic pride, in-group esteem, and likelihood to participate in

contentious politics. If these smaller groups have the ability to cause change on a

national scale, then countries, being that they themselves are a large group of people,

should have the potential to cause change on a global scale. Whether this is true or not

will be explored later on, but the LGBT community shows that pride on a group level not

only mirrors, but amplifies, the function of pride on an individual level and often affects

more individuals than a single person could.

Pride on a national scale: patriotism and nationalism

Perhaps the most common way that national pride has been explained in the

American education system, and therefore the terms people are most familiar with, are

nationalism and patriotism. Individuals are taught from a young age that Americans are

patriotic because they are proud of their country and should devote their lives to it

(Kersten and Kersten, 2011). Participating in activities such as saying the Pledge of

Allegiance, voting, and supporting military troops are not only options for how to

express patriotism, but they have also become American’s civic duty. On the other hand,

nationalism is often taught as being a from of national pride that is so strong that it

motivates one country to hurt another and creates an “us vs. them” mentality (Kim
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 26

2014). Although these terms are efficient ways of characterizing types of national pride,

this is, unsurprisingly, a vast overgeneralization and even misinterpretation of what

patriotism and nationalism actually are. Just like individual pride, patriotism and

nationalism are often misinterpreted because people do not understand their core

ideologies and what motivates them.

The concept of patriotism was first defined in the context of the United States by

Alexander Hamilton’s first Federalist Paper. In that document, Hamilton pointed out

that all Americans have a “collective interest in making the new democracy succeed”

(Fox, n.d.). From there, the definition of patriotism has evolved, but has kept continuity

in regards to Hamilton’s original idea. The true modern definition of patriotism is “a

dedication to one's country and loyalty to the principles for which it stands” (Cespedes,

Haugen, Musser, and Chaney​ 2014). Additionally, Cespedes et. al. (2014) emphasized

that “Patriotism represents a loyalty not to land or national borders but instead a

steadfast adherence to a set of principles that are greater than an individual person.”

Patriotism allows for a man to defend values that are larger than himself and his”narrow

sphere of influence” (Cespedes et. al, 2014) and results from people who are proud of

the principles and core ideologies of the country they reside in. For Americans,

patriotism is adhering to and maintaining the civil rights and liberties that are expressed

in the Constitution. Patriotic Americans feel that these principles make them unique

from other countries and that it is therefore their civic duty to uphold and maintain

them.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 27

Many historians argue that nationalism was the driving force behind the

atrocities committed by the axis powers during World War II. Pride can interfere with

empathy (Buechner, Pekrun, and Lichtenfeld, 2018), and therefore many people believe

that the excessive amount of national pride Nazi Germany was filled with during and

prior to World War II motivated its actions. But in actuality, there was something far

more influential that motivated them besides simply a larger than average amount of

pride. Kim and Seohko (2006) defined nationalism as “a strong national devotion that

places one’s own country above all others.” Hanson and O’Dwyer (2019) further that

definition by characterizing nationalism as “blind patriotism, characterized by an

intolerance of criticism and an unquestioning positive evaluation of, and staunch

allegiance to one’s own nation.” While patriots feel love for their country because they

feel their country is at its best, nationalists feel love for their country when they compare

it to other nations and feel their country is superior. This is similar to a student who

works hard to get the best grades he can possibly achieve versus a student who works

hard in an attempt to be better than everyone else in a more general sense. Additionally,

nationalism further differs from patriotism in relation to their motives. Nationalism

stems from people having pride in a commonly shared characteristic that they believe

elevates them above other people, such as race, religion, or ethnicity. Similar to

individuals with hubristic pride, nationalists believe that success is innate or

pre-determined, which likely accounts for why nationalists act in similar ways to

hubristic individuals.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 28

“A patriot loves his country enough to die for it.” while a “A nationalist loves his

country enough to hate other people and countries for it” (Submission I, 2016). Unlike

the overgeneralizing dichotomy that is often created when talking about individual

pride, patriotism and nationalism are perfect terms for describing national pride, since

patriotism will be inherently positive while nationalism will be inherently negative.

Patriots are motivated by national ideologies and principles and express their pride by

working to improve and show respect towards their nation, while nationalists are

motivated by their “unique” characteristics that they believe make them better than

others and is often expressed through conceit and violence. If national identity is “​the

cohesive force that both holds nation states together” (Kim and Seohko, 2006), then

patriotism and nationalism are the different brands of glue that hold these nations

together. Nationalism and patriotism are the large scale versions of hubristic and

authentic pride respectively and are important classifications for not only national

pride, but also pride on a general group level.

Levels of national pride in different countries

Considering that national pride is extremely difficult to define, it becomes

exponentially harder to measure. Suryers and researchers rarely distinguish between

patriotic and nationalistic pride, so many of the published studies measure only the

general amount of pride in each nation. These studies provide little information as to

whether the pride in these countries is healthy or not, but they do illustrate some

general patterns regarding where and potentially why nations experience different levels

of pride. Overall, it seems that countries in North and South America tend to experience
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 29

the highest levels of pride while countries in Western Europe and Eastern Asia

experience the lowest.

Americans are often stereotyped for having excessively high levels of national

pride, but it seems these high levels of pride extends to other nations on the western

hemisphere as well. In a large scale survey conducted by Vanderbilt University, North

and South American countries, the latter of which are often neglected in large scale

surveys, were asked to pick a number between 1 and 7 to rank how proud they were to be

[nationality], with 7 being the highest (Noh, 2018). Because respondents who ranked in

the middle tended to lean towards the positive side, the results of the survey only

measured the number of respondents that selected a 7 (Noh, 2018). Appendix C shows

the results of the survey, with the grey area indicating the number of responses outside

of the 95% confidence interval (See Appendix C). The responses show that a shocking

amount of Latin Americans are extremely proud of their nationality, with Panama

having 9 out of 10 respondents being the most proud of their nation (Noh, 2019).

Additionally, another ranking which sampled 19 different countries found that the US

was the “most proud country in the world” according to how respondents answered the

question “Do you believe you live in the best country in the world” (McCarthy, 2019)? Of

the 19 countries polled, 37% of respondents believed the US was the best country in the

world with an additional 28% believing it was “better than most other countries”

(Colson, 2016). While there is not a 100% accurate way to judge levels of national pride,

North and South American countries tend to rank consistently high (McCarthy, 2019

and Noh, 2019). One interesting similarity between all of these prideful countries is that
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 30

they are all former colonies. There is a positive correlation between former colonies and

high levels of national pride, which may be a result of an increased understanding of the

value of their countries’ constitutional principles due to initial oppression by colonial

power (Kim and Seohko, 2006). Many colonized countries had to fight for their

independence, which gives them a greater sense of accomplishment than most other

nations (Buechner, Pekrun, and Lichtenfeld, 2018).

On the other hand, surveys and studies have shown that East Asian and Western

European countries tend to rank lower in levels of national pride. In the same survey

that ranked the US as the proudest country in the world, 18 other countries were

surveyed, including Sweden, India, France, Norway, Australia, Finland, Germany,

Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the Philippines,

Singapore, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Malaysia, and Hong Kong

(Colson, 2016). Of these countries, Sweden, Singapore, Vietnam, France, and Germany

ranked in the bottom 5, with the amount of people believing their country to be the “best

in the world” ranging from 5-8% (Colson, 2016). Furthermore, no East Asian or Western

European country ranked in the top 5, with the highest of the group being Thailand that

polled at 25% believing they were the best country in the world (Colson, 2016). Other

East Asian countries not officially polled, such as Japan, have also reported low levels of

national pride (Patriotism and Nationalism in Postwar Japan, 2016). This may stem

from more of a cultural etiquette, since Asians are often taught to be humble and

therefore not express high levels of national pride, although this does not mean that they

are not proud of their nation. Western European countries, however, are a far more
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 31

puzzling case. Western Europe contains some of the most developed, prosperous, and

happiest countries in the world, yet their national pride is drastically low.

While there are other trends that will not be discussed in this paper, such as

ex-socialist states having lower levels of pride and countries that have experienced

terrorist attacks having higher levels of pride, the most relevant topics described above

will be further scrutinized. The trends and patterns exemplified here give insight not

only into where pride seems to thrive, but also ​why c​ ertain countries have high or low

levels of pride. Putting aside that pollers and respondants often fail to differentiate

between nationalistic and patriotic levels of pride, the general regional trends give a vast

amount of insight into the most influential potential causes of national pride.

National Pride in the United States of America

America is often considered to be “the proudest country in the world”. Whether

this assertion is backed by factual surveys or based off of common stereotypes, the fact

remains that Americans are considered to be among the most proud of their country in

the world (Colson, 2016). However, this may be more of a reflection of how other

countries view the United States rather than how Americans view themselves. In such a

polarized political climate, some authors, such as Emily Noh, have found that national

pride in the United States is declining and has been largely overestimated in recent

years (Noh, 2018). In order to gain better insight into how much pride Americans have,

a survey was conducted within Tallwood High School where teachers and students alike

were asked to rate the statement “Are you proud to be an American?” Participants could

rate the statement as “strongly agree, agree, neutral/ no opinion, disagree, or strongly
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 32

disagree”. The results showed that a majority of respondents, over 50%, either agreed or

strongly agreed with the statement, and less than 10% of respondents disagreed or

strongly disagreed (see appendix D).This could indicate that national pride is still

relatively within the United States and perhaps that national pride in the United States

is unique compared to other countries. The healthy patriotism that Americans feel can

be mostly attributed to most citizens’ belief in and appreciation of core American

principles and has reaped many positive benefits within the boundaries of the United

States.

Determining whether American pride is natonialistic or patriotic is an important

tool for gaining insight into the patterns that Americans tend to follow in regards to

their level of pride. In the aforementioned survey, respondents were also asked to

explain why they were or were not proud to be an American. In general, respondents

who agreed they were proud to be an American reasoned that America stands for many

important values and that they have a lot of opportunities living in it. One person

responded that “​America offers a lot of opportunities for people to move up and express

their opinions to change the political system.” This sheds light onto what primarily

influences American citizens with high levels of national pride: respect towards the

values and opportunities that define America. The “American Dream” is a catchy slogan

that happens to attract a vast amount of foreigners to America. Immigrants believe that

America will provide them with an opportunity to experience democracy, social equality,

and economic opportunity (Kersten and Kersten, 2011). Whether these opportunities

are truly present or not will not be explored in this paper, but Kersten et. al. explains
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 33

that the presented opportunities that Americans have serves as a source of both

gratitude and national pride (Kersten et. al. 2011).

The founding of the United States was based off of the ideas of freedom and

equality. With these liberties comes the concept of consent of the governed, in which

citizens are required to uphold to civic duties and responsibilities in order to make sure

that democracy can thrive. It is from this idea that American pride really begins to grow

within individuals. As stated before, pride stems from achievement (Buechner et. al.

2014). Hanson and O’Dwyer (2019) state that Americans feel a sense of achievement

when they uphold their civic duties such as voting or saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

Americans feel that through performing their civic duty and upholding the values of the

framers, they are actively contributing towards their country and thus take pride in

being a citizen (Hanson et. al. 2019). This motivation shows that the national pride in

the United States is mostly patriotic, because it is motivated by values that are unique to

the nation and motivates citizens to do their best for their country.

Some people argue that America has strayed from the values that the framers

intended throughout the course of history. In fact, when the survey asked participants if

they were proud of America’s history, results were mixed. Many people said that they

were neutral towards, however a slight majority of participants either disagreed or

strongly disagreed with the statement “I am proud of America’s history” (see appendix

E). And with historical actions such as slavery and the displacement of Native

Americans, there is certainly a reason to at least question the validity of the framers’

ideas. This is an idea that does not fit into the scope of this paper, but is nonetheless
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 34

important to bear in mind when examining the United States because it represents a

form of cognitive dissonance.

National pride has had some noticeably positive effects in the United States.

Firstly, national pride in the United States has lead to a greater sense of community

(Williams, 2011). Williams states that events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina have

illustrated the patriotic sentiments of Americans due to the combined grief that people

all around the nation felt and the willingness to help those who were affected (Williams,

2011). Americans who take pride in their nations are more likely to help their fellow

citizens as a way to fulfill their civic duty and help improve America’s quality.

Additionally, a positive correlation has been shown between levels of pride in the United

States and the amount of volunteering done by citizens (Fox, n.d.) Specifically, Fox

supports this statement by claiming that adults in America donate so much of their time

volunteering that it is approximately equivalent to four million part time jobs (Fox,

n.d.). American patriotism serves as a positive binding force that has helped unite

Americans and encourage selfless behavior.

While some Americans may disagree with the current political operations or look

down upon its history, America is nonetheless a very patriotic country due to its belief in

its core fundamental principles. Its overarching positive effects have helped to instill

authentic pride within its inhabitants and it continues to hold together the extremely

diverse nation.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 35

Comparison Country: Germany

“Sometimes you just have to be ashamed to be German” (Miller-Idriss and

Rothenberg, 2012). This statement, which came from an average German citizen,

illustrates the sad reality of the relationship between Germans and their country. But as

the other 89 Germans interviewed along with this individual show, “sometimes” may be

an understatement (Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg, 2012). Germany has possibly the

lowest amount of national pride in the entire world (Dresler-Hawke and Liu, 2006, Kim

and Seohko, 2006, Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg, 2012, and Colson, 2016) and many of

the citizens interviewed by both professional researchers and other ordinary citizens

demonstrated a complex attitude towards their feelings of pride (Easy German, 2018,

Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg, 2012, Dresler-Hawke and Liu, 2006). German citizens

most often indicated that they were either proud of their country but too afraid to show

it; felt indifferent towards their country and took no pride in it; or were subtly ashamed

of their country and people who expressed pride towards it (Easy German, 2018,

Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg, 2012). It is especially interesting that, in general,

Germans had far less national pride than Americans despite believing that they had a

better relationship with their government and a better quality of life than most

Americans did (Dresler-Hawke and Liu, 2006). German national pride is notorious for

being low, but the true causes, effects, and cognitive mindset of most German citizens

regarding this issue remain vastly misunderstood.

It is no secret that Germany was responsible for one of the most notorious

genocides in all of human history: the Holocaust. The Third Reich not only became the
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 36

most well-known example of genocide in the modern world, but it became perhaps the

most important turning point in Germany’s history (Mueller, 2017). When Germany

surrendered in WWII and the allies took control of the government, the allies and the

new German officials they elected worked to eliminate all and any public infiltration and

influence of the Nazis (Mueller, 2017). The Nazis had originally gained so much power

because they were present in every position of life, from the government to the military

to even the educational system (Spielvogel, 2004). Therefore, to prevent another fascist

uprising, the allied powers ordered a complete denazification under the Marshall Plan.

Although the Marshall Plan is most famous for the economic aid it provided to Europe,

West Germany in particular, the denazification laws that came with it were brutal. Any

person associated with or susected of promoting Nazi beliefs was removed from their

position and often faced charges. Furthermore, Germans feared that Nazi ideals had

wormed their way into other aspects of their lives, such as infrastructure and history

(Mueller, 2017). This lead to the complete obliteration of German novels, historical

monuments, and even buildings that were created during the Third Reich (Mueller,

2017). As a result, all facets of German history are now taught as pre-1945 and post-1945

(Mueller, 2017). Finally, the attrocities of the Holocaust were now required by law to be

taught in schools all over Germany starting as early as primary school (Mueller, 2017

and Dresler-Hawke and Liu, 2006). This genocide is not taught like how America

teaches the Native American genocide or slavery; students are taught to feel ashamed

and responsible for the torture that befell over 6 million people as if they, too, have a

partial responsibility.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 37

“Ashamed” may be a bit extreme, but German students are certainly made to feel

at least partially involved in the actions of the Holocaust. It is quite normal for humans

to feel pride based on what the people they are related to accomplish, especially in the

case of ancestors. However, more often than not people tend to disassociate with their

group when that said group brings shame upon the person supporting them

(Dresler-Hawke and Liu, 2006). For example, football fans may refer to their favorite

team’s victory as “we won” but refer to their favorite team’s loss as “they

lost”(Dresler-Hawke and Liu, 2006). This shift in collective identity when it is

convenient for the moral justification of the individual is quite common in American

history. However, Germany interestingly decided, whether intentionally or not, to

associate their present selfs with the events of the Holocaust (Dresler-Hawke and Liu,

2006 and Mueller, 2017). This is perhaps the biggest reason Germans have such a

depressed state of national pride today. This association has caused Germans to not only

be ashamed of their history, but also of their present identity (Kim and Seohko, 2006,

Dresler-Hawke and Liu, 2006). Similarly, because nationalism was said to be the main

perpetrator behind the events of the Holocaust, the idea of national pride is considered

taboo. In fact, just a few years ago when a centre-right politician, Laurenz Meyer,

commented that he was “proud to be German”, the opposing Green party and most of

the public accused him of being a “skinhead” and equated his remarks to that of a “racist

hooligan” (Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg, 2012). Clearly, due to past events and how

those events are portrayed in contemporary society, even expressing an ounce of


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 38

national pride worthy of social shame (Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg, 2012,

Dresler-Hawke and Liu, 2006, Mueller, 2017 and Easy German, 2018).

As the years have progressed, the German education system has slowly relaxed

intensity in the way that it approaches the Holocaust. As a result, the German youth feel

slightly more inclined to feel pride in their nation (Easy German, 2018 and Miller-Idriss

and Rothenberg, 2012). However, the long period of pride’s absence has resulted in

many Germans not understanding what national pride is. Germans often feel that “being

German” literally means that someone was “born in Germany” and nothing more

(Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg, 2012). They lack the fundamental sense of

accomplishment that should come from being German, which is a necessity for feeling

pride on an individual level (Buechner, Pekrun, and Lichtenfeld, 2018). Additionally,

many Germans believe that because they cannot be proud of their nation because they

have “achieved nothing by being born in Germany” (Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg,

2012). Clearly, Germans lack the same attachment to patriotic values that Americans

have, which is largely due to the portrayal of their history. American history also

contains atrocities towards racial or religious groups similar to Germany’s, however the

American educational system does not emphasize these bloodstains nearly as much as

Germany does, which gives Americans the ability to feel patriotic.

Unfortunately, many Germans desire to feel patriotism, but believe they cannot

do so due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what pride is, and a fear that they will

be categorized as right-wing extremists (Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg, 2012, Easy

German, 2018, Dresler-Hawke and Liu, 2006, and Kim and Seohko, 2006). This has
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 39

caused a plethora of present day issues, many of which are starting to become nationally

recognized. For one, many Germans are starting to feel an outright rejection of their

nation, or a stagnant feeling of indifference (Easy German, 2018 and Miller-Idriss and

Rothenberg, 2012). They are unhappy with the cold nature that their country offers, and

therefore feel that they cannot form any attachment towards their nation, which creates

a self-fulfilling prophecy. Additionally, a result of the catastrophically low levels of pride

in Germany has led to the rise of a political party called Alternative für Deutschland, or

the AfD. this far right party is most known for its homophobic, xenophobic, and its

neo-nazi views that are beginning to gain more popularity. However, the party itself

seems to be fueled due to a lack of German pride, or so they often claim. They are tired

of feeling guilty for an event that happened years ago, with some members even denying

its existence, so they promote nationalism in an effort to regain that lost pride. As a

result, many Germans feel they cannot express national pride because they fear that

they will be compared to these right wing extremists (Easy German, 2018 and

Miller-Idriss and Rothenberg, 2012).

Truly, Germany’s unique situation is one of tragedy and irony. In an effort to

destroy any ounce of national pride, Germany has essentially ruined any chance of

developing healthy patriotism among its authentic citizens and has inadvertently

promoted nationalism in its extreme, hubristic inhabitants. Germany’s history and how

that history has been portrayed have led to what appears to be an endless cycle of

discontempt and misery. However, it seems that Germany is not the only country in

which history has played a big role in national pride.


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 40

Comparison Country: Japan

Japan is a country that contains all the potential ingredients that could be used to

stir up nationalism. As an extremely homogeneous nation that dissuades the

immigration of foreigners, it is reasonable to assume that Japanese people would derive

a great amount of pride from their shared ethnic characteristics. However, as it turns

out, Japanese pride is a bit more complicated than that. Compared to other nations in

both nationalistic and patriotic sentiments, Japan is quite low (See Appendix E). In fact,

they rank in the same range as Germany, which naturally brings up parallels in the two

nations’ similar history. Japan also committed mass atrocities during WWII to China,

Korea, and the Philippines that nearly rival those of Germany. That being said, there is a

major difference between the two nations: Japan does not experience the same level that

Germany does (Ide, 2009). This is due to a multitude of factors, but it can be mostly

attributed to the way in which Japan portrays its’ history and why people are

subsequently attached to their nation, which has resulted in a greater sense of

connection and civic participation among its citizens.

Although Japan’s level of national pride ranks comparatively low on a global

scale, it is important to note that it does not stem from a depressed sense of pride, rather

from a cultural value of humility (Eiraku, 2019 and Beauchamp, 2014). A majority of

Japanese citizens believe that Japan is a “first-rate country” and nearly all citizens are

“happy to have been born in Japan” (see Appendix F, Eiraku, 2019). These rates have

been mostly increasing over the past two decades (Eiraku, 2019) and give some insight

as to why. Firstly, Japan is a society that largely shames hubris and encourages values of
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 41

respect and humility (Beauchamp, 2014). This societal pressure dissuades them from

proclaiming themselves as better than other nations, but it certainly does not cause

them to feel ashamed of it. Secondly, Japanese people derive a lot of pride from their

traditional cultural values (Beauchamp, 2014 and Eiraku, 2019). The Emperor

specifically is extremely well respected by the Japanese people and plays a major role in

their feelings towards their nation, especially in the more recent Heisei and Reiwa eras

(See Appendix G). The current Emperor, Naruhito, is pushing a more conservative

agenda, which includes increasing “Japanese pride in its roots and traditions” (Sieg,

2019). As a result of all of these combined factors, Japan experiences an authentic,

patriotic sense of pride that is subtly expressed, but still manages to unite its people

together.

Considering that history has been shown to play an essential role in forming a

nation’s sense of pride and Japan values its traditional history and values, it remains a

mystery as to why Japanese people do not experience the same level of shame that

Germans do from their World War II atrocities. Some historians argue that Japan’s

actions towards China were even more cruel than those of the Nazis, so why has their

sense of patriotism, which is so dependent on their historically traditional values,

remained so high? Simply put, Japan teaches its history in a much less accusatory way

than Germany does (Porter, 2019). Essentially, the Japanese education system glorifies

the tragedies of World War II by explaining them in a shallow manner that is dissociated

from their present identity. Schools teach their youth that although the genocide did

happen and was a terrible thing, it is more so a “product of its time” rather than a
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 42

fundamental ideological flaw within Japanese tradition (Ide, 2009, Porter 2019, and

Yee, A., Katz, R., Takahashi, T., Tanaka, H., Nagy, S. R., Hashimoto, A., … Feddiemac,

2017). ​It is comparable to the way that the American education system teaches about the

Native American genocide. In contrast to Germany, Japanese people often see

themselves as a victim of the growing imperial sentiments during the time of WWII and

thus deflect responsibility. “​While both emphasize the need to learn from the horror of

the war by promoting world peace, they avoid in depth discussion of how, and why,

Japan went to war. Instead they honor their own civilian and military dead” (Porter,

2019).​ In doing so, this has allowed for Japan to base their traditional values and

identity on other aspects of their history (Yee, et. al 2017). Many Japanese historians are

claiming that the pre-Meiji era “​propelled the country to the ranks of the great powers.

But in the following period, Japan became self-centred and turned towards militarism,

which led, eventually, to the Second World War. In other words, Japan’s history

emphasises the positive aspects of the Meiji Era up until 1905 when Japan was open and

progressive” (Yee, et. al, 2017). By emphasizing their economic and social progressivism

during the modern era and ignoring the war crimes they commited, Japan has managed

to elevate their sense of pride in way which has reaped positive benefits.

Japan’s heightened level of national pride as a result of historical distortion

seems to be affecting their nation in a very positive way. Japan is experiencing a higher

level of civic participation and citizens seem to be very content with living in their nation

(Eiraku 2019). Japanese people are experiencing a great sense of in-group esteem which

is uniting them as a country (McClendon, 2014). Yet at the same time, there seems to be
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 43

subtly present undertone of fear sadness within the Japanese people (Porter, 2019 and

Submission I, 2016). During the World War II era, Japanese patriotic sentiment began

to morph into nationalism as muddled definitions of what it means to be patriotic. This

misunderstood meaning of pride lead Japan into a nationalistic mindset that resulted in

the deaths of countless victims. The Japanese view this occurrence as a loss of control

(Submission I, 2016). ​“At a basic cultural level, Japanese fear a loss of control. And

beginning in the 1920s, a national loss of control led to “patriotism” turning into

“nationalism.” Following the war, Japanese have collectively pledged to never lose

control ever again. And that fear, embedded in our cultural DNA, is why Japanese will

never be a threat to any of its neighbors ever again” (Submission I, 2016). This fear of

losing control accounts not only for why Japan is not a nationalistic nation, but also why

Japanese indivduals do not commonly display hubris or arrogance. It is an unspoken

rule in their culture that unjustified pride can poison the mind, and that it should thus

be avoided (Submission I, 2016 and Porter, 2019).

Overall, Japan’s healthy level of patriotism and low level of nationalism despite

its troubled historical past show that the teaching of history is ultimately what

influences pride the most. Both countries share a troubled past, but Japan has glorified

their actions, swept them under the rug, and then socially shamed those that exhibit the

nationalistic sentiments that resulted in a loss of control over a half-century ago (Yee, et.

al, 2017, Porter, 2019, Submission I, 2016, Eiraku, 2019). Although this portrayal of

history could be interpreted as negative due to not holding Japan accountable,

something that has continued to trouble East Asian relations to this day, this
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 44

interpretation has managed to encourage a greater sense of community within its

citizens (Eiraku, 2019). This poses the question of which is morally and practically just:

the German portrayal of history, in which holds its citizens and nations accountable for

its actions which results in a depressed sense of patriotism and community involvement,

or the US and Japanese way of portraying history which glorifies and undermines how

other people were treated which helps to foster patriotism and community involvement,

despite being based on false pretenses.

Conclusion

Pride is an emotion that has the ability to control individuals, groups, and entire

countries. Humans, in general, require a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose in

order to feel adequate in their daily lives. And for many people, whether they are

consciously aware of it or not, national pride fills those requirements quite well. With

history and accomplishment being the prime motivating factors, patriotism has many

positive effects on both nations and individuals, which includes but is not limited to

increased in-group esteem and a greater likelihood for citizens to uphold their civic

duties. This is why patriotism is important: it fills a desire that people need in order to

feel motivated enough to participate within their nation.

Patriotism is an inherently positive concept for both individuals and countries

alike. Because patriotism is based off of one’s desire to uphold the moral principles of a

nation, patriotic individuals must be motivated by authentic pride. Similar to how the

LGBT community and other groups with authentic pride feel, patriotic individuals feel
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 45

that the opportunities and values that their country stands for should not be taken for

granted and that they must be actively uphold, which leads to the positive behavior

experienced by countries such as the United States. An absence of patriotism can cause

a feeling of cold detachment from one’s country, as exemplified by Germany. This

constant feeling of reinforced indifference or shame towards one’s country may

eventually lead to radical nationalism and the promotion of hubristic pride, as seen with

the AfD in Germany today. All of these combined reasons show why patriotism is an

important concept for healthy nations and individuals alike.

With that being said, the line between patriotic pride and nationalistic hatred is

not always cut and dry. The shining moral ideas of one country may be considered taboo

ideas in another country, which could potentially lead to conflict on the global stage. A

country’s or individual’s promotion of patriotism may indirectly be promoting a sense of

nationalism and hubris in other individuals if not properly distinguished, especially if

the nation has a particular ethnic group in historical majority that reveals a bias. That is

why is important to bear in mind that nationalism and hubris are inherently bad and

can never be considered healthy motivators. It is human tendency to compare oneself

with those around them. However, when being better than everyone becomes a central

motivator for individuals, groups, or countries, problems arise that often lead to the

diminishment of others in order to make the aggressor feel superior. While the

promotion of patriotism could instill a better sense of community and authentic pride

within people, educators need to be careful with how they portray it.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 46

As for the nations that were analysed earlier, perhaps more attention should be

spent on how history is taught in modern times. There may be no objectively good way

to teach history, but there are certainly pros and cons to all ways of teaching. Teaching

with a very active and critical way, like Germany does, does a better job at effectively

portraying past events that happened in order to prevent it from occurring again. On the

other hand, it also makes it difficult for people to become proud in their nation when

they are taught that their country committed terrible acts and that they are indirectly

responsible. The American and Japanese way of teaching history, which often involves

glossing over historical tragedies and writing them off as a “product of their time” does

a somewhat poor job at effectively portraying the negative consequences of their past

actions. This makes the history seem less impactful and there is therefore a greater

chance that it may be repeated again. It could also lead to decreased empathy, as

citizens will have less of an understanding about how their ancestor’s consequences

could have impacted other groups of people who are still feeling the consequences to

this day. That being said, this style of teaching helps people become attached to their

nation and promote its principles because they are not burdened by feelings or guilty or

hypocrisy. This is simply a brief overview of the pros and cons of different teaching

styles of history and how they affect national pride: finding an ideal teaching style is

much too complex for the scope of this paper. The important takeaway from this is that

the teaching of history will continue to have a large effect on national pride.

Pride is not an inherently bad emotion and should certainly not be only limited to

an individual level. People should be allowed to feel authentic pride in their


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 47

accomplishments, whether they directly achieved them or not. Taking pride in a group

or nation should not only be socially acceptable; it should be encouraged, since it leads

to people becoming more active and feeling more satisfied. As long as humans have the

cognitive ability to recognize and evaluate their own accomplishments, pride will

continue to play a big role in everyday life, including on the national scale. With definite

and healthy motivations, authentic pride is an essential requirement for people to

experience happiness and a greater sense of community.


The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 48

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Appendix A

TERM Self-Esteem (What I Image (What others


believe) believe)

Hubris Unrealistically High

Bluster Unsure or low Unrealistically High

Stubborn Pride Unsure

Humiliation I Deserve Better Declining

Humility Realistic

Contempt My self-esteem exceeds


my image of another
Pride- Feeling good about yourself. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from
http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/pride.htm
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 53

Appendix B
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 54

Appendix C

Noh, E. E. (2018, August 8). Across Most of the Americas, National Pride Is High and Stable,
While It Has Plummeted in the U.S. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from
https://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/insights/IO934en.pdf.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 55

Appendix D
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 56

Appendix E

Beauchamp, Z. (2014, May 18). Where people love their nation & where they don't. Retrieved
from https://www.vox.com/2014/5/18/5724552/patriotism-pride-global-world.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 57

Appendix F

Eiraku, M. (2019, May 30). How has Japan's patriotism changed over the past half century?:
NHK WORLD-JAPAN News. Retrieved from
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/339/.
The Formation, Causes, and Effects of National Pride 58

Appendix G

Eiraku, M. (2019, May 30). How has Japan's patriotism changed over the past half century?:
NHK WORLD-JAPAN News. Retrieved from
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/339/.