A study by 65 researchers from around the world reveals how considerate people from different countries are when making low consequence decisions.
A recent study on Social Mindfulness (SoMi) revealed that Austria is the most considerate EU country. The concept of Social Mindfulness relates to acts of empathy, kindness and cooperation that are of low or no cost to the actor and the researchers believe that they reveal some truth about the way a society functions in general.
The study was led by Niels Van Doesum, from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, but also included various collaborations and contributions, like Ursula Athenstaedt from the University of Graz, Marcello Gallucci from the University of Milano-Bicocca, and others.
The research involved 65 scientists analysing results from more than 8,300 people. The people came from 31 nations and, while western developed countries are strongly represented, the study wanted to cast a wider net.
This is why they looked into the social habits of places like Turkey, Indonesia, South Korea and Romania.
Would you pick the wine glass?
The study describes the concept of Social Mindfulness in a relatively straightforward way. Imagine two colleagues, Alex and Mary. They are going to their work’s corporate New Year’s party, but they are running late. On their way to the party, both of them talk about wanting to drink some red wine.
Luckily, their employer hired a local wine shop that provides a wide selection of prefilled glasses and they were all laid out on a table for self-service. However, when Mary and Alex get to the office, Mary notices that there are several glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon and only one glass of Merlot. Alex is distracted at the moment, so Mary has the first pick. What does she do?
Wanting to be nice, she decides on the Cabernet Sauvignon, because if she would take the Merlot, Alex would be left with only one choice.
This is what Social Mindfulness is all about – being thoughtful of others in the present moment and considering their needs before making decisions. And, in essence, this is a cooperative decision, as it takes into account the abstract existence of another individual and their preferences.
At the same time, the decision someone makes in these circumstances is particularly revealing, because both the cost and the consequences to society are very small. In other words, precisely because they are small, according to the research, they have a chance to inform a broader cultural attitude towards cooperation.
While the study remained limited in its findings on Social Mindfulness, the researchers do point out that further inquiry into the finer workings of socially mindful habits can prove beneficial in increasing our understanding of interactions between cultures, societies and countries.
The most socially mindful countries in European Union
While Austria is the most socially mindful country in the European Union from the ones that were surveyed, it did come second out of the global group, with Japan topping the list, with a score of 72%.
Based on the percentage of Social Mindfulness, these are the rankings for the European Union:
- Austria with 69.8%
- Czech Republic with 68.8%
- The Netherlands with 66.8%
- Spain with 65.6%
- Germany with 65.2%
- France with 64.6%
- Portugal with 63.6%
- Belgium with 62%
- Poland with 60.7%
- Romania with 60.2%
- Greece with 56.4%