The Map of Stereotypes

Gallup conducted a global survey of levels of emotion.  The results are interesting.  The least emotional country in the world?  Singapore.  The most emotional country in the world?  The Philippines.  The US came in as the 14th most emotional country.

There seem to be certain cultural trends on display here.  If you live in a country that used to be a part of the Spanish empire, you are more emotional than your counterparts that live in formerly communist countries.  So, if you’re living in Lima, you’re going to be a lot more demonstrative with your emotions than a stoic Muscovite.  Unfortunately, Cuba was not surveyed, so we can’t see what the intersection of salsa and Marx yields.

And (with the exception of Russia) larger countries tend to be a bit more emotional than smaller countries.  I know that when talking about the geographic size of countries, making an exception for the largest country is a bit of a stretch, but Russians have always thought themselves exceptional, so I thought that it was a fair point to make.  Perhaps emotion is a luxury that smaller countries find in short supply.

And, as with other polls that Gallup has conducted in the recent past (read: all polls done this fall for the general election), there may be room for debate on certain findings.  For example, the poll finds that Britain is more emotional than Italy.  Really?  But that doesn’t conform to all of my stereotypical imagery about shouting, wildly gesticulating Italians, as opposed to the proper, emotionally frigid English.  Not sure I buy at least that part of the survey.

Silliness aside, there is a certain lesson to be drawn from the survey, particularly when it comes to emotionless Singapore.  In terms of the measures we look at when we assess a country’s economic and material well being, Singapore routinely comes out on top, ahead of the US, the Nordic  countries, or Switzerland, traditionally the leaders of the pack, so to speak.  Apparently, however, they’re not that happy.  Or, if they are, they’re at least having a very difficult time of articulating it.  The country is known for being an emotionally buttoned-down place where displays of emotion, while not frowned upon openly, are at least not overtly encouraged, and rather rare.  Just goes to show you that money can’t buy you love, or, in this case, emotional functionality.


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