SINGAPORE, 9 July 2014 – After a dramatic drop last year, the Graciousness Index recovered slightly, inching up two points to 55. The recovery was largely driven by improvements in Experience ratings, which mean more respondents have reported doing, receiving or witnessing acts of kindness and graciousness.
The Graciousness Index is an annual study that tracks the perception and experience of kindness and graciousness in Singapore. First commissioned by the Singapore Kindness Movement six years ago, the study polled a demographically representative sample of 1,666 respondents over a four-week period earlier this year, to better understand the issues surrounding kindness and graciousness in Singapore.
The Index is composed of several indicators that fall into one of two categories – Experience and Perception. The recovery in this year’s Index rating comes mainly from the Experience indicators – the doing, receiving and witnessing of kind and gracious acts. However, the Perception indicators, which look at the attitudes and opinions of themselves and of others, held largely steady.
Commenting on the study results, Dr William Wan, General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), said, “An improvement in the Graciousness Index is heartening news, but it also points to how much more work needs to be done. This year’s results show that we are a little more sensitive to prosocial acts that go on around us than last year, but that our attitudes toward kindness have not similarly improved.”
Netizens supportive of gracious etiquette online
The study’s supplementary findings showed that, contrary to popular opinion, the heaviest users of the Internet and social media are more likely to believe that it is necessary to be gracious when online. Among those who use the Internet for more than 20 hours each week, 55% believe graciousness is necessary on the Internet, while 80% believe more needs to be done to educate people on gracious behaviour online. This is significantly higher than the 25% and 57% respectively amongst users who are online less than two hours each week.
“Some of us practically live on the Internet, given how much time we spend online. To me, it makes sense then that we should also be the biggest advocates for graciousness and politeness online. The Internet is our home, and like any home owner, we want a home we can be proud of,” said Ms Crystal Goh of Diamonds on the Street, a ground-up movement that empowers and brings hope to vulnerable individuals and communities by co-creating music and stories.
Pedestrians overtake Motorists, Gen Y and Babyboomers trade places In the analysis by segment, the Index rating for Motorists came in below average at 53. In comparison, Pedestrians have made a remarkable leap from 51 in 2013 to 57 this year. A possible explanation for the difference in attitudes among road users could be the greater scrutiny that Motorists have found themselves under in the past year, where poor behavior is easily captured by dashboard cameras and brought to the public eye.
Following the finding from last year, Under 30s continued to be more optimistic and positive about the perceptions and experiences of graciousness when compared to the Over 50s. The Under 30s continued to show strong improvement this year, widening their lead to six points at 58, compared to 52 for the Over 50s segment. Interestingly, this is an about-turn from the Index ratings in 2012, where the Over 50s had a higher Index rating compared with Under 30s.
Parents get a mixed report card
Respondents are largely agreed that parents and home-based caregivers can still do more to impart values of kindness and graciousness to their children and charges. 81% of respondents indicated that values education among young people is the best way to create a culture of kindness. However, only 37% believed that “parents in Singapore are actively reinforcing moral values in their children”, while a third disagreed.
"The school environment and the child's interactions with friends and classmates can play a big part in determining how they behave and the values they hold, but parents are ultimately responsible for their child's moral and social development. I feel it is very important for parents to play an active role in shaping their children's values by paying attention to how their children behave, and spending the time to guide and correct them. I believe most parents understand this responsibility, but there's always room for us to do better," commented Serina Perera, a mother to two school-going children.
“Kindness and graciousness have had an eventful year, but it looks like we might have finally turned the bend. As a society, we have not shied away from the difficult conversations, but as the Index reveals, we are now demanding more civility, from others, and ourselves,” said Dr. Wan, “This shift in direction is a good, but we all have a part to play in keeping things on track.”
Image from Singapore Kindness Movement