S'poreans not only emotionless but unhappiest in the world as well: Poll

WASHINGTON - Singaporeans are the least positive people in the world, according to international pollster Gallup at least.

Gallup measured positive emotions in 148 countries and areas in 2011 using five questions. These questions ask people whether they experienced a lot of enjoyment the day before the survey and whether they felt respected, well-rested, laughed and smiled a lot, and did or learned something interesting.

The average percentage of respondents worldwide who said "yes" to these five questions reflects a relatively upbeat world.

Latin Americans emerged as the most positive people in the world, with their region being home to eight of the top 10 countries for positive emotions worldwide.

Residents in Panama and Paraguay are the most likely to report experiencing positive emotions. Singaporeans, Armenians, and Iraqis are least likely worldwide to report feeling positive emotions.

Gallup found that 85 per cent of adults worldwide felt treated with respect all day, 72 per cent smiled and laughed a lot, 73 per cent felt enjoyment a lot of the day, and 72 per cent felt well-rested.

The only emotion that less than half of people worldwide reported experiencing was getting to learn or do something interesting the previous day, at 43 per cent.

Despite many global challenges, people worldwide are experiencing many positive emotions.

Economic wealth does not mean happiness

These data may surprise analysts and leaders who solely focus on traditional economic indicators.

Residents of Singapore, which ranks fifth in the world in terms of GDP per capita, were the least likely to report positive emotions.

In contrast, residents of Panama, which ranks 90th in the world with respect to GDP per capita, are among the most likely to report positive emotions. 

Higher income does not necessarily mean higher wellbeing, researchers said.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman and Princeton economist Angus Deaton found in the US that income only makes a significant impact on daily positive emotions when earning up to US$75,000 (S$91,507) annually - after that, additional income does not make as much of a difference.

The researchers advised Singapore leaders to do more to incorporate wellbeing into their leadership strategies.

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2011 in 148 countries and areas.