The Scottish Personality

I’ve often wondered if a nation, or at least a culture, could be said to have a personality.  Is it possible, for example, to describe the entire Scottish Nation as though it were a single, homogeneous, person with distinctive character traits.

We’re all familiar with the idea of stereotypes of course, and with the stereotypical Scot: He of lank ginger hair and sickly pale skin. Constantly drunk, abusive, aggressive and tight-fisted but at the same time generous and warm hearted. Normally dressed in a Tam O Shanter bunnet, kilt and munching on a raw haggis.It’s an image that’s travelled the world, and it’s quite often there to meet we Scots however far we roam. God help us if we make first contact with intelligent alien life. They’ll probably claim to be descended from someone on sky and then try to copy the accent.

How much of this is true though, and how much of it is invention. I can count on one hand the number of ginger people I’ve met, and I’ve lived in Scotland all my life. Drunken, aggressive Jakes are a fact of life in every urban area whither you’re in Kelvinside or Kathmandu.

Stereotypes aren’t personality though.

If I were to try to describe the personality of Scotland I would say we’re stoic, serious and dour like a church of Scotland minister on a wintry Sunday morning. We’ll bear indignities that other nations would tear themselves apart over. We’re proud of ourselves, proud of our people and proud of the people that left Scotland and change the world no matter how small a part of the world they changed. We’re patient, slow burning and wise in our judgements, but we can be hot headed and quick to anger when the touch paper is lit. We know in our hearts that no man is our better, and that all are deserving of respect. At times we see the world with a fatalism that is at odds with our inventiveness, inquisitiveness and the optimism that hides in our heart.

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9 Responses to “The Scottish Personality”


  1. 1 lyla May 29, 2011 at 17:01

    I’m doing a work about Scotland and you just helped me…
    Thanks….

  2. 2 thalia hollis August 6, 2011 at 04:38

    Each Scot is more different from other Scots than Scots as a people are different from other peoples.

  3. 3 The Arcadian August 31, 2011 at 07:14

    Very nice description. When I think of Scots I usually think of the infamous Scottish engineers and of course Shirley Manson of Garbage.

  4. 4 grace March 12, 2012 at 09:05

    True enough

  5. 5 Ira August 3, 2012 at 01:57

    Scotts are tight with the money, frugal like a Norwegian, may be that is why the Scot is frugal, since the vikings settled in Scotland.

  6. 6 cj February 1, 2013 at 11:07

    your post is helping me understand the Scots I know so that I can make wise choices about how to interact with them

  7. 7 Michael Johnston March 12, 2014 at 14:41

    Reblogged this on Snarknado! and commented:
    I did a search on “Scottish characteristics” and this came up. While I’m only descended from Scottish ancestors, and am several generations removed from that beautiful land, the description of the Scottish personality struck me as very apt, and somewhat descriptive of myself as well.

  8. 8 Martha June 1, 2014 at 01:33

    Having been several generations removed from Scotland, this is fitting description. Being independent, warm hearted but sometimes quick to anger describes me very well.

  9. 9 Nancy Ross July 12, 2014 at 00:57

    My Scottish kin moved to America in the 1800’s but I still proudly acknowledge my Scots heritage. I personally believe typical traits of the Scots are frugality (a very good thing!), a love of land and patriotism, loyalty and kinship, a grand sense of humor , a keen sense of invention and a strong survival spirit. My Highland relatives settled in the American South and I believe that the pride that American Southern feels is very similar to the pride felt by Scots. We Southerners have never forgotten the War of Northern Aggression (Civil War)… Just kidding (not!). Plus…Folks from Scotland have beautiful muscular legs!


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