Emotional intelligence, or the ability to assess, control, and maneuver your emotions and those of others, is a skill all its own. While emotional health may seem like something that’s always on the back burner, what with the numerous responsibilities we take on, the deadlines we have to meet, and the rules and social constraints we must abide by, our emotions are stealthily steering the way as we go about our day. The way we feel matters and impacts all of our actions. Being emotionally intelligent is recognizing the fact that we are emotional beings and being able to understand and master the more unruly or unreasonable emotions.
The term itself reached popularity with Daniel Goleman’s best seller Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, released in 1995, and has been a popular point of discussion since. It’s fascinating – not to mention useful – to know that a consciousness of the way we feel and make others feel has tangible effects. Emotional intelligence also demonstrates how well we respond to and are aware of those around us, and by extension, how well aware we are of ourselves.
Too often the term ‘emotional’ carries a negative connotation, often associated with outmoded ideas of hysteria. The reality is we’re all emotional by dint of being human. Our emotions can’t be separated from memory, sensation, or perception. In fact, the root word emo is ancient Greek for blood and motion, of course, refers to movement. Essentially, emotions are as integral to our life as our life’s blood.
Ways of processing emotions – celebration, trauma, grief – vary from culture to culture. Citizens’ common approach to their emotional life is a formative aspect of a society, so it’s interesting to learn which nations are the most and least emotional. The ‘stiff upper lip’ approach to tough situations is often seen to be typically British, while fiery, extroverted emotions are commonly associated with Latin blood. Just how accurate are these perceptions?
Gallup, a global performance-management consulting company based in Washington, DC, conducted an international survey with this in mind, in order to determine which countries are the most emotional. Through asking 1,000 individuals from ages 15 and up in over 150 countries from 2009- 2011, Gallup correlated the percentages of how often people responded, “Yes” or “No” to experiencing 5 positive and 5 negative emotions the day prior.
The results of their survey are deeply revealing. Post-Soviet countries commonly feature among the least emotional. Countries in the Middle East and Africa experience negative emotions most and Latin American countries ranked highest in experiencing positive emotions overall. It’s a necessarily cyclical relationship: Culture, environment, and how we communicate to others are inextricably linked to our emotional health, while our emotional habits are also formative to our culture. With that in mind, let’s take a look at which countries rank as the most emotional and examine the possible reasons behind the results.
10. Bolivia : 54%
54 percent of Bolivians reported feeling a full range of emotions in their everyday lives. A highly traditional culture, Bolivian society emphasizes marriage, family, and kinship. There is a poor social welfare system in Bolivia and this, along with a history of political instability, renders it a country where social control is handled informally at the local level. It isn’t unreasonable to consider that perhaps because of the culture’s emphasis on familial support systems for the general survival of social groups, Bolivians have developed a strong level of empathy, thereby developing an emphasis and acute awareness of the emotional experience.
9. Guatemala: 54%
Of the 1,000 Guatemalans surveyed, 54 percent reported an overall emotional awareness. Guatemalan society faces numerous problems, with crime running rampant under a government that’s known not to train nor regulate its law enforcement adequately. Thus, most of the time, justice is served by the people’s own hands. This may very well heighten the sense of community, affiliation and sensitivity that prompts a greater awareness of others and inspires the same receptivity when reflecting on oneself.
8. Canada: 54%
54 percent of Canadians surveyed reported feeling negative and positive emotions in their day-to-day lives. A number of medical and non-medical centers on emotions and their impact on health are established in Canada and there are even training programs for incorporating an understanding of how emotions impact existing psychological disorders, and general well-being. It’s clear that there is a growing awareness of emotional intelligence and psychological health in Canada and that may account for why the population is so in tune with how they’re feeling.
7. Costa Rica: 54%
54 percent of Costa Ricans also reported feeling a full range of emotions on an average day. This self-awareness might be caused by the Costa Rican culture’s consideration of, and sensitivity to, the emotions of others. Locals are known to say “puede ser” (maybe) instead of “no”, because ‘no’ seems like a harsh response that could hurt someone’s feelings. Costa Ricans are also raised at a young age to be non-confrontational and accusations are considered highly impolite. It’s also uncommon for a Costa Ricans to express anger in public. This sensitivity to the feelings of others definitely shows a heightened level of emotional intelligence.
6. Chile: 54%
54 percent of Chilean participants reported feeling a range of both negative and positive emotions often in their daily lives. Since regaining democratic rule in the 1990’s, the Chilean government has focused on fighting against poverty and expanding economic growth. Chile is now the most socially and economically developed country in Latin America and perhaps its communal progressive move towards national prosperity is what makes its citizens maintain a more collective mindframe that takes into account emotional experience.
5. Colombia: 55%
55 percent of Columbians surveyed reported feeling a full range of emotions. Colombian culture is comprised of many distinct regional cultures and is a country marred by social stratification in the historic fashion of a colonial empire with whites at the top, racially mixed people making up the middle class, and indigenous peoples at the lower class level. In Colombia, skin color can be something that defines a person. It prompts one to wonder if a country where individuals base such importance on each other’s outward appearance is one where people are perhaps more self-conscious thus, making them more socially aware of both themselves and others, so much so as to increase emotional intelligence.
4. Oman: 55%
Located in Southwest Asia, Oman is an Arab state with a culture deeply rooted in the religion of Islam. 55 percent of the Omanis surveyed experienced both negative and positive emotions on a daily basis. The Islamic religion holds hospitality in high esteem, as a great honor to bestow on others. Perhaps this sense of community is what lends individuals in Oman the empathic awareness and consideration of others that could increase one’s awareness of themselves.
3. Bahrain: 56%
The country of Bahrain is an island nation made up of 33 islands with Saudi Arabia located on its western side. 56 percent of the people surveyed from Bahrain reported feeling a full range of both negative and positive emotions. Over half of the population of this country are foreigners and perhaps due to the varying demographics, (although citizens predominantly practice the Islam religion) Bahrain culture is open and tolerant of other religions. Catholic churches, Hindu temples, and Jewish synagogues can be found here. Maybe this social awareness and acceptance, as well as an apparently strong level of spirituality across the board, contribute to the Bahraini people’s’ level of emotional intelligence.
2. El Salvador: 57%
With 57 percent of those surveyed responding “Yes” to both the negative and positive questions about their emotional experience, El Salvador is definitely a country where people are aware of how they’re feeling.
Half of the population in El Salvador lives below the poverty line and 47 percent of people do not have access to clean water. Salvadorians are accustomed to living with large, extended families and thus have close familial connections with strong bonds and communal support groups. Social support is defined as emotional and instrumental assistance from others; perhaps poverty, close quarters, and family ties make it so that Salvadorans are more aware of those who surround them, which increases their own self-awareness and knowledge of their emotional experience.
1. Philippines: 60%
The Philippines makes the top of the list as the most emotional country. But it bears mentioning that only 60 percent of people surveyed experienced the full range of both negative and positive emotions based on the questionnaire. This unimpressive number shows that not many individuals (globally) are experiencing their emotions on a daily basis, or perhaps more accurately, we simply aren’t fully aware of our emotional experiences.