Singaporeans are the least likely in the world to report experiencing emotions of any kind on a daily basis. The 36% who report feeling either positive or negative emotions is the lowest in the world. Filipinos, on the other hand, are the most emotional, with six in 10 saying they experience a lot of these feelings daily.
Are Singaporeans more suited to the bloodless and strictly-business world of commerce, and feelings-rich Filipinos not so much? You decide.
The well-known US pollster Gallup, which was founded in 1935, measures daily emotions in more than 150 countries and areas by asking residents whether they experienced five positive and five negative emotions a lot the previous day.
Negative experiences include anger, stress, sadness, physical pain, and worry. Positive emotions include feeling well-rested, being treated with respect, enjoyment, smiling and laughing a lot, and learning or doing something interesting.
To measure the presence or absence of emotions, Gallup averaged together the percentage of residents in each country who said they experienced each of the 10 positive and negative emotions.
Negative emotions are highest in the Middle East and North Africa, with Iraq, Bahrain, and the Palestinian Territories leading the world in negative daily experiences. Latin America leads the world when it comes to positive emotions, with Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela at the top of that list.
Behavioral indicators such as positive and negative emotions are a vital measure of a society's wellbeing, says Gallup. Leaders worldwide are starting to incorporate such behavioral-based indicators into the metrics they use to evaluate their countries because they realize that traditional economic indicators such as GDP and 40-hour workweeks alone do not, and cannot, quantify the human condition.
While higher incomes may improve people's emotional wellbeing, they can only do so to a certain extent.
In the United States, for example, Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman and Princeton economist Angus Deaton found that after individuals make $75,000 annually, additional income will have little meaningful effect on how they experience their lives.
Consider this finding in the context of Singapore, a country with one of the lowest unemployment rates and highest GDP per capita rates in the world, but a place where residents barely experience any positive emotions.
This research shows that the solutions to improve positive emotions or decrease negative emotions do not necessarily go beyond higher incomes. Singapore's leadership, Gallup suggests, needs to consider strategies that lie outside of the traditional confines of classic economics and would be well-advised to include wellbeing in its overall strategies if it is going to further improve the lives of its citizenry.