On What It Means to Be Filipino: Quantifying the Filipino Psyche

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What’s important in life? What do you want in a job? Is suicide justifiable? Would you want a drug addict as a neighbor? How many children would you like to have? Do you have confidence in the church? Find out how Filipinos responded to these types of questions using data from the World Values Survey.

TJ Palanca https://www.twitter.com/tjpalanca
05-04-2014
Culture has always been tricky to measure, but by asking the right questions we can get a grasp of how Filipinos think. In this photo, hot ai'r balloons fly at the 16th International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Subic, Philippines. (Photo: <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/mayprodrigo/5449260561' rel='nofollow' target='_blank'>Lady May Pamintuan/Flickr</a>, <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/' rel='nofollow' target='_blank'>CC BY-ND 2.0</a>)

Figure 1: Culture has always been tricky to measure, but by asking the right questions we can get a grasp of how Filipinos think. In this photo, hot ai’r balloons fly at the 16th International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Subic, Philippines. (Photo: Lady May Pamintuan/Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

What does it mean to be Filipino? It’s a big question, but data from the World Values Survey can provide some answers. It does so by asking certain questions, such as whether work or family is more important, or whether divorce, abortion, or suicide are justifiable, or if they have faith in government.

I’ve written against opinion polls in the past for their inability to capture true preferences, and the WVS is a qualitative preference-based survey at its best, but what sets it apart from other ‘opinion polls’ is that the researchers took pains to come up with a representative 1,200-person sample, and limited the questions to very specific responses.

The latest wave on the Philippines was in 2001,. but I’ve chosen questions that are less topical and thus more likely to still apply today. I’ve also segregated the responses by gender, income level, and educational attainment. Now, let’s get into the data.

What’s important in life?

Question: For each of the following, indicate how important it is in your life. Would you say it is x?

True to the tight-knit nature of Filipinos, family comes out as very important for nearly all respondents. This is followed closely by work, religion, and friends. Leisure and politics seem to be only somewhat important to Filipinos.

Friends, leisure, and politics are more important for males, while religion is more important for females. Upper income classes seem to value friends, leisure, and politics more then lower income classes. The same is true for those who are more educated - they value friends, leisure, and politics more then those who are less educated. This is probably because lower classes and the less educated are more focused on subsistence - that is work, family, and to some extent religion, than ‘worldly’ affairs.

What’s important in a job?

Question: Here are some more aspects of a job that people say are important. Please look at them and tell me which ones you personally think are important in a job?