Is Singapore maturing into a Nation of Kindness?
Singapore, 5 May 2015 – The Graciousness Index has continued to move up, from 53 in 2013 to 55 in 2014, and to 61 in 2015. This year’s rise is led by a growing sense of positive perceptions about kindness and graciousness in Singapore, with respondents rating both themselves and others higher when it comes to being considerate, courteous and showing appreciation.
The Graciousness Index is an annual study commissioned by the Singapore Kindness Movement to track experience and perceptions of kindness and graciousness in Singapore, as well as study attitudes towards various pertinent community issues. Over a six-week period from December 2014 to February 2015, a demographically representative sample of 1,850 respondents was asked to share their experiences and perceptions of graciousness in Singapore.
There was a marked increase in optimism, with 44% of respondents indicating that graciousness in Singapore had improved, compared to just 28% last year. 84% rated their own gracious behaviour as either good or excellent, and 69% felt the same about overall Singapore society. They also felt that Singapore was improving across the graciousness pillars of being considerate, being courteous and showing appreciation to others.
Dr. William Wan, General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, believes that this is a promising sign. “The increase in positive perceptions and overall sense of improvement is encouraging. If we as a nation continue this positive trend, then kindness and graciousness can become part of our norms and national identity.”
Neighbourly relations cordial, but inhibited by fear and awkwardness
The survey also delved into public attitudes towards topics related to kindness and graciousness. Within our neighbourhoods, nearly 9 in 10 Singaporeans interact positively with their neighbours in some way. 53% of respondents reported that they greet and acknowledge each other, while 35% go even further by engaging with their neighbours in conversation, sharing meals or inviting each other into their homes.
Of all respondents, 42% desired a greater sense of neighbourliness in their communities. This is particularly true for new estates and among new neighbours. Those who have lived at their current addresses for between 6 and 24 months were more likely to participate in activities which encourage more neighbourly interaction.
However, amongst those who desire greater neighbourliness, it is the individual’s sense of fear and awkwardness, rather than actual negative experiences, which prevents them from getting started. More than a third (38%) admitted to not knowing how to initiate friendships with their neighbours, while the fear of being misunderstood (34%) or embarrassment if rejected (24%) were also cited as stumbling blocks.
“The act of kindness itself can be very simple – a smile, a wave, a word of thanks or encouragement. But sometimes, rousing ourselves from our comfort zones and reaching out to others can seem daunting,” said Dr. Wan, “Over the last three years, the Singapore Kindness Movement has adopted the theme ‘A Nation of Kindness Starts with One’ to communicate the very important role that each of us have in being responsible for the kindness and graciousness around us. Our vision as a movement is a society where each of us takes ownership for the sort of society we want, and not push that responsibility to someone else.”
When asked who should make Singapore a gracious place to live in, 72% felt the government should be responsible, while only 60% saw themselves as sharing that responsibility. The role of parents (50%) was seen to be marginally higher than that of schools (48%), indicating an understanding that education and inculcation of values is done both at home and in school.
Parents see potential for greater involvement in moulding children’s values
On the whole, parents and non-parents alike (64% and 61% respectively) were positive when it comes to imparting moral and civic values to future generations of Singapore. When asked what would be the one best method to instil good values in children, 56% of all respondents felt that it is important for parents to serve as role models.
Despite this, nearly 6 in 10 felt that parents are not leading by example, 56% and 58% amongst parents and non-parents respectively. However, it is encouraging to note that close to 8 in 10 parents agree that they can do more to inculcate the right moral and civic values to their children.
One parent whose role modeling has clearly influenced her daughter is Joyce Teng, mother of Blessings in a Bag’s Emily Teng. “When we were living in Indonesia, seeing the real poor as we did our little bit impacted Emily a lot,” says Mrs Teng. “This impression led her to start Blessings in a Bag. Instilling the qualities of kindness and giving since young is our responsibility as parents. I’m proud to see that Emily is now leading by example as a role model for the next generation.”
Concluding, SKM’s Dr Wan said, “From the Graciousness Index study, it seems that most parents are aware of the importance of their role, and want to do better. That’s the sort of spirit that will help us inculcate good values in the next generation and lay the foundation for the ‘nation of kindness’ that we all desire.”
For more information about the Graciousness Index 2015, please visit http://kindness.sg.