Why Are Scandinavians So Nice? 

The Scandinavia countries of northern Europe are known for their pristine natural beauty, strong welfare programs, and constant high ranking on the “World Happiness Record.”

As many travelers to the Nordic countries have noted, the people there are also very kind, but why are Scandinavians so nice?

Scandinavians are so nice because they value kindness and respect. They care about people and the environment.

Their healthy lifestyles and high trust in society and each other also allow them to be kind and generous to others. However, their dislike of small talk can make them seem standoffish.

This article will discuss what niceness and politeness really mean in Scandinavian countries.

It’ll also explore what aspects of their societies lead to their warm, friendly lives in such a cold section of the planet.

Also, see Why Are Scandinavians So Big? to learn more.

Scandinavian homes
Are Scandinavians good people? See below

Are Scandinavians Good People? 

The three Scandinavian countries are Sweden, Denmark, and Norway in northern Europe, though Finland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands are sometimes considered Scandivianian as well. (Technically, they’re Nordic, not Scandinavian.) 

While not everyone living in Scandinavia will be nice – individuals are individuals, after all – the general consensus is that Scandinavians are really nice, kind people. They’re also pretty happy, on the whole.

All in all, Scandinavians have a reputation for being good people.

What Is Scandinavian ‘Nice?’

What does ‘Scandinavians are nice people’ actually mean? 

People in Scandinavian countries are compassionate and tolerant of others, even the elderly and unemployed, because they see all humans as equally worthy.

They trust society to care for them and extend the same kindness to others. [1]

This kindness also applies to non-humans, as pets have their own set of rights, including the right to food, water, and care. Dogs, in particular, are loved as family members. [2]

According to an article from ‘The Conversation,’ the idea of niceness can be separated into two categories: politeness and compassion. [3]

In other words, the two main aspects of being nice are respecting and caring about other people. 

Scandinavians, with their strong social ties, tick both boxes.

What Does ‘Politeness’ Mean in Scandinavian Countries?

While Scandinavians focus significantly on community, that doesn’t lessen their sense of personal freedom.

They generally believe that people can have different opinions without causing large fights.

In fact, anything that could cause a disagreement, such as personal opinions, is kept out of the public eye.

Keeping the peace between people is a significant focus of Scandinavian society.

Alongside avoiding arguments, people speak slowly without raising their voices and don’t interrupt others. This politeness and respect shown to others is expected to go both ways. 

Inequality is another thing that Scandinavians try to avoid, which can be linked to their desire to care for each other.

This includes being not only respectful but kind. Their niceness to their neighbors then leads to an overall happier society. 

Also, see Why Do Scandinavians Wear Black? to learn more.

Northern Lights
Why are the Scandinavians so happy? See below

Why Are the Scandinavians So Happy?

The three Scandinavian countries ranked highly on Forbes 2022 ‘World Happiness Report, with Denmark as third, Sweden as sixth, and Norway as eighth. [4][5] 

Many Scandinavians in this country possess a positive outlook. They also value keeping the environment healthy, which may be a significant reason for their high happiness scores. [4]

This love of nature and their desire to protect it are intertwined with their health. Long walks are a popular pastime, and cities are designed for walkability instead of cars. 

Research has shown that people with strong ties and access to the natural world have better emotional and mental health. [6]

With mountains, glaciers, lakes, and forests, is it surprising that Scandinavians are happy to stop and sniff the flowers?

Additionally, due to the cold weather and dark periods the area is known for, the Scandinavian countries have societies that focus on caring for others, health, and gratitude. 

Many social factors lead to Scandinavian people ranking so highly on happiness scales.

These countries have solid welfare programs to care for their population.

They also have good work-life balances and cordial relationships with their neighbors. 

In Sweden, health care is primarily free until a person is 20 years old. Even after that, it won’t cost more than $130 per year. [7]

Because of the numerous welfare programs, there are low levels of crime and unemployment. 

Scandinavians are taken care of by their government and trust each other to act in the same good faith they would.

This means more than just being kind; Scandinavians are also expected to offer to help when needed. 

Another reason people in Scandinavia are happier is that work is not seen as the main focus of someone’s life.

So while Scandinavians put effort into their jobs, they also make plenty of time to do activities they love, including taking vacations. 

The idea of ‘everything in moderation’ is something Scandinavians live by, leading to an overall healthier lifestyle, especially when combined with the surrounding nature.

In addition, people in Scandinavian countries do not let work overtake their lives, and daily breaks, known as ‘fika,’ are common. [8]

Also, see Why Do Scandinavians Have Similar Flags? to learn more.

Scandinavian sunrise
Are Iceland and Finland nice, too? See below

The Connection Between Kindness and Happiness

But how does all of this connect to Scandinavian niceness? Simple. 

Research has shown that kindness and happiness are connected and that the kinder someone is to others, the happier that person is.

Not only are Scandinavians happier due to their environment, but their focus on the welfare of all only makes them kinder, and the cycle continues. [9]

In other words, the happier people are, the nicer they are. 

What About Other Nordic People?

Despite what people think, Finland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands aren’t part of the Scandinavian countries.

However, they are Nordic and have close ties to Scandinavia. So, are people friendly there, as well?

Yes, actually. The Nordic countries are very hospitable places. For example, Finland placed first – for the fifth time in a row – on the Forbes 2022 ‘World Happiness Report’ and Iceland second.

Also, see Why Do Scandinavians Think of Germany? to learn more.

Why Do Some People Think Scandinavians Are Not Nice People?

Scandinavians are kind but tend to be more private than in other parts of the world, which can lead to misunderstandings.

Small talk is considered impolite, meaning travelers may have trouble starting conversations. 

Nobody likes to feel as if they are being ignored or brushed off, and Scandivians’ less outgoing interactions with strangers can unintentionally come off as rude to the latter.

It can also be difficult for travelers or new immigrants to find friends and learn the language. 

Certain cultural differences also contribute to some people thinking Scandivains aren’t as nice as their reputations indicate.

For example, Swedes don’t typically feed their guests. [10]. To an outsider, that may seem impolite.

However, it’s more a case of something appearing rude in one part of the world but actually being the normal state of business somewhere else. 

While there will always be people who are a bit more surly anywhere you look, most Scandinavians are nice.

Also, see Why Do Scandinavians Think of the British? to learn more.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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