Forget all the stereotypes about the reserved English or the hotblooded Italian. When it comes to being least emotional, Singapore is the coolest, while the Philippines is red hot. This is according to a new study released recently by polling firm Gallup, which conducted a three-year survey of every country in the world.
The survey asked respondents ten separate questions, five related to whether they had recently had positive emotional experiences, such as laughing or learning something new, and five negative emotional experiences, such as feeling pain or stress. Many of the countries with residents responding “yes” to both the positive and negative emotions are in Latin America. Many of the countries that generally exhibited little emotional response are located in the former Soviet bloc. Based on Gallup’s survey, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most and least emotional countries in the world.
A study conducted by Nobel laureate economist Daniel Kahneman determined that while having some income was important to happiness, income above a certain point — the equivalent of roughly $75,000 U.S. — made no difference in improving a person’s emotional state.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Gallup partner Jon Clifton explained that income is not the determining factor for whether people have healthy emotional lives. “If you’re talking about how someone evaluates their lives, then “yes,” the more income they have, the better. But on the emotional side, after $75,000 per year, income makes less of an impact on how people experience their lives.”
While Gallup has not published findings on the extent to which the most emotional countries experienced primarily positive emotions, that is clearly the case. The most emotional countries, located primarily in Latin America the Arabian Gulf, are not the most prosperous countries. GDP per capita in the Philippines, the most emotional country in the world, was 99th worldwide. In El Salvador, GDP grew just 1.4% between 2010 and 2011 — among the smallest economic growth in the world — yet an average of 83% of residents answered yes to all questions related to positive emotions.
Meanwhile, many of the world’s wealthiest countries reported experiencing very little emotion of any kind — positive or negative. For example, in Singapore, which has among the highest GDP per capita in the world, an average of just 36% responded “yes” to all ten questions. In Kazakhstan, GDP growth between 2001 and 2011 was among the largest in the world, and yet the country ranked as the fifth least emotional in Gallup’s study.
The countries that experienced the most emotions overall were not necessarily all positive. For example, Bahrain was the third most emotional country. During the three-year period of the study, the average rate of “yes” responses to all five negative emotion questions was 45%, one of the highest rates in the world.
In order to identify the most (and least) emotional countries, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Gallup’s study on the emotional state of the world. The study surveyed thousands of residents in 151 countries, asking them ten questions, five meant to reflect positive emotions, and five meant to reflect negative emotions. The percent of citizens responding “yes” to each of these ten questions were averaged together, determining a country’s level of emotion. In addition, 24/7 Wall St. considered data from the IMF and World Bank for the most recent available year. Constant prices are used when change in GDP is calculated, but current prices are used for expressing GDP per capita. While the main study covers three years, we also reviewed Gallup data on the average response rate for the five negative questions from just 2011. For the five most emotional countries, Gallup provided the rate of response for both the positive and negative emotions for all three years.
These are the most and least emotional countries.