Photo: Flickr/Philippe Put
Singapore is known for its thriving economy, its ceaseless construction, and its innovative restaurants and shops. The small southeast Asian city-state has one of the lowest unemployment rates and one of the highest rates of GDP per capita in the world.So how does such a tiny country—which is only about 276 square miles with just over 5 million residents—continue to develop so rapidly?
Perhaps its because its residents lack volatile emotions. A new Gallup study showed that Singaporeans are the least emotional people in the world.
In a recent survey, Gallup measured the emotions of people in more than 150 countries and regions by asking whether they experience five positive emotions (feeling well-rested, being treated with respect, enjoyment, smiling and laughing, learning or doing something interesting) and five negative emotions (anger, stress, sadness, physical pain, worry) on a daily basis.
Only 36 per cent of Singaporeans reported feeling any emotions (either positive or negative) on a daily basis—the lowest percentage in the world. The republic of Georgia and Lithuania fell right behind Singapore as the least emotional countries in the world, with only 37 per cent of their populations reporting feeling any emotions.
On the other side of the spectrum, 60 per cent of Filipinos reported feeling positive or negative emotions daily, making the Philippines the most emotional country surveyed.
“Singapore is undoubtedly one of the best run and most respected countries in the world,” Gallup’s Jon Clifton wrote. “However, if Singapore wants to continue to advance its society, its next biggest breakthroughs must come from improving how residents experience their daily lives.”
Singaporeans admit they have a problem expressing emotions, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Some Singaporeans say they grow up feeling discouraged from being different. “We are taught to keep going and not make too much of a fuss,” Leong Chan-Hoong, a research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, told Businessweek.
Businessweek said that Singapore’s leaders are trying to create a more “free-wheeling society.” Last August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporean parents to let their children enjoy their childhoods.
But Clifton thinks Singapore’s leaders still have their work cut out for them.
“The bottom line is that Singaporeans are productive, highly disciplined citizens who are not enjoying their lives much,” he wrote. “This culture has won historically, but it will not move to the next level until its leadership takes well-being seriously.”
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