Category Archives: Research

Cool Visual Projects (By Others) That I Dig

  1. Vivid Verse by Emma Zhang

2. The Stories Behind a Line by Federica Fragapane & Alex Piacentini

3. Complaints Department operated by Guerrilla Girls

LIVE FROM TATE EXCHANGE: Join the Guerrilla Girls talking to Tate curator Madeleine Keep about the importance of complaining ???

Posted by Tate on Friday, 7 October 2016

Keyword Development + More of Research Done

Finding the positives in negative psychology

1. The Atlantic – Complaining for Your Health

While there is an abundance of google results that lean towards complaining as a big no-no, I was pleasantly surprised to come across this Atlantic magazine article that highlights the benefits of airing grievances. It was a great stepping stone in my research as the writer had cited and referenced scholars and studies that were relevant to my topic of interest.

One of them was Robin Kowalski, one of the (very) few psychology professors and researchers, who had done a number of studies that were related to the act of complaining, such as: her pet peeves study suggested that “happier, more mindful individuals may be better at modulating their complaints, preferring to complain only when it serves a purpose” // another study showed that “people with high self-esteem complain more frequently, possibly because those with more confidence are more likely to believe that speaking up will turn things in their favour”.

2. The School of Life – How to Complain

3. The Trouble with Pleasure: Deleuze and Psychoanalysis by Aaron Schuster

Another interesting read was this philosophy book and its enclosed chapter “Critique of Pure Complaint”. Schuster makes a point of how some people complain simply for the pleasure of it (jouissance); “the act thrives in its own dissatisfaction” and that “nothing proves that pleasure is a happy affair”. He also cites Nancy Ries in how complaining creates communities; it is not merely a private affair, it is ideological.

This led me to think of complaining in the Singapore context. If America has its culture of optimism, Japan practices a culture of restraint and perhaps East European countries and their culture of pro-kvetching, what about our Singapore culture?

As such, a potential area of research moving forward would be to investigate:

  • What is the extent to which Singaporeans express their level of satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with life in the city?
  • Is there a correlation between levels of dissatisfaction and inclination to complain among Singaporeans?



Topic Considerations: Happiness, immigration, & complaining as Singapore’s favourite pastime

Beginning the academic year riddled with uncertainty on what to tackle for my FYP, I turned to the World Happiness Report of 2018 for some insight on how Singapore has fared on the global stage:

Singapore ranked 34th in World Happiness Report 2018, Finland takes top position.

Besides the common metrics of well-being, income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity, this year’s report included the well-being of immigrant population in each country.

“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” said co-editor Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia, Canada in a statement.

“Although immigrants come from countries with very different levels of happiness, their reported life evaluations converge towards those of other residents in their new countries. Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose,” though the adjustment of happiness is not complete, as migrants still reflect in part the happiness of their birth country.” – The Peak Magazine

Unsurprisingly, Singapore’s ranking fell 4 notches from its previous position of 26th in 2017. While the results are somewhat discouraging, the meaty topic of immigration in Singapore has always been once of high relevance, mainly as economic, social and cultural concerns. As the government continues to push its pro-immigration stance since 2013 (The White Paper), native Singaporeans outpour of complaints (and tone) has also not changed.

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