The most recent Gallup report on Global Emotions, revealed a number of interesting insights about people’s daily experiences around the world. The report was based on the results of Gallup’s Positive and Negative Experience indices. Over 153,000 interviews with adults over 15 years old were conducted in order to produce the data, with each interviewee being asked a standard set of questions. The indices then produce a score based on all valid affirmative responses to these questions.
The Positive Experience Index asked questions including, ‘Did you feel well-rested yesterday?’ and ‘Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?’ While the Negative Experience Index included questions like, ‘Did you experience the following feelings during a lot of the day yesterday? How about stress?’ and ‘Did you experience the following feelings during a lot of the day yesterday? How about anger?’
The scores reveal both predictable and surprising conclusions.
Unsurprisingly, countries that were in turmoil throughout the past year generally ranked near the bottom of the Positive Experience Index and towards the top of the Negative Experience Index. African and Middle Eastern countries made up the majority of the nations in this category. For example, Iraq and Iran were at the top of the Negative Experience list with scores of 56 and 50 respectively.
While the revelation that those experiencing political, economic, and social disruption would be particularly unhappy is not groundbreaking, there was a very clear set of results that may surprise people. The top 10 of the Positive Experience Index was filled entirely by Latin American countries. These countries also dominated the list for top ten most emotional nations, measured by averaging the most yes responses that make up the Positive and Negative Experience indices. These results led the authors of the report to surmise that the outcomes ‘at least partly reflect the cultural tendency in the region to focus on the positives in life.’ This hypothesis makes a great deal of sense, as many of the Latin American nations are not necessarily the wealthiest, yet they appear to be the most positive.
Globally, results have been remarkably similar over the years, since the report’s first launch. Since 2006 the worldwide Positive Experience Index score has been between 68 and 71, suggesting that the daily lives of individuals have become significantly more or less enjoyable over the past decade on average. Similarly, the Negative Experience Index score has been between 23 and 27 since 2006.
The other significant finding is the ‘percentage of people who laughed and smiled yesterday’ and the ‘percentage of people who experienced anger yesterday.’ Again the results are unsurprising for the most part, with the angriest populations coming from the African and Middle Eastern regions where populations are experiencing turmoil. However, one surprising statistic does emerge in this area of the report. Fifty two percent of the population of war-torn Afghanistan responded affirmatively to having laughed and smiled the previous day. While this may not seem like a particularly important figure on the surface, there were a number of countries below 52% for this response. The report asserts that it is ‘perhaps a testimony to the resiliency of the human spirit.’
While the Gallup report does not give evidence-backed reasons as to why nations responded in the way they did, it does play a role in displaying the general reaction humans have to their daily lives. The report ignores traditional economic and political indicators used in more common measures like GDP and instead gives an insight into the general outlook that populations have. This is where the main value of the Gallup report can be found; it provides a set of data that is rarely examined and as a result can be used to better understand what makes a population ‘happier’.