S’pore girls are materialistic: SMU study

Do S’pore girls value a man’s social status over other factors such as kindness and personality? (Yahoo!)
Do S’pore girls value a man’s social status over other factors such as kindness and personality? (Yahoo!)

A new research has shown that Singaporean women are "significantly" more materialistic than their American peers. Published earlier this year, the study by Singapore Management University (SMU) psychology professor Norman Li surveyed about 400 psychology students aged between 19 and 21.

The local females polled an average of 3.98, compared to the American women's score of 3.74. The closer the score is to five, the more materialistic one is deemed to be.

Survey findings also named a man's social status as the top criterion for Singaporean women when it comes to looking for a potential spouse, reported The Straits Times. Next on the list is kindness, followed by a lively personality. On the contrary, American women valued kindness the most, followed by looks, then a man's social standing.

While the study did not ask respondents for the reasons behind their answers, Professor Li said he is not surprised by the findings.

"Maybe Singaporean women are just being realistic. Here, you need a lot of money to survive and afford an affluent lifestyle. Maybe they are just being practical," said the 45-year-old American-born Chinese.

Those surveyed were students at SMU and the Northen Illinois University in the United States. They were surveyed on their attitudes towards marriage, children and preferences when it comes to choosing a partner.

"I think it is reasonable," said 22-year-old undergraduate from Nanyang Technological University, Valerie Fong.

"Social status is parallel to money, and having that is like a validation from other people. It makes you feel good because others will approve of you. That and social comparison too, I guess."

"It is not a must but if you happen to chance upon one, why not? If you get a choice, you can certainly place yourself in an environment," she added.

"I guess that's true when you're looking for a husband, financial stability is definitely important," agreed Lydia Chan, 27, sales associate.

"But at the end of the day, money is not going to guarantee you a happy marriage unless you're seeking materialistic gains," she warned.

Other women Yahoo! Singapore spoke to were quick to disagree.

"I'm afraid I'm still old fashioned and traditional, but personality and kindness come first for me," shared Sharon Lim, 23, HR officer.

Said Deborah Tan, 23, an undergraduate, "I don't think the study reflects female students as a whole and it is unfair if it does. I think we have moved past materialism. To me, it does not have any meaning other than superficiality and shallowness which is what girls don't want to be associated with."

Lim Yan Han, 22, also agreed that the results are not representative.

"This is not something new," said the final-year National University of Singapore psychology student. "The findings back up the evolution theory that says men look for attractive women while women look for successful men."

"But what's the use of having a spouse who's a high flyer at work but doesn't communicate with you and instead, cares only about himself or his work?"

Professor Li's research found no major differences when it comes to men's preferences, however. His findings showed that looks remain the most important trait in a spouse for both Singaporean and American men, before kindness and a lively personality.

"Men are wired to go for looks," he explained, adding that a woman's physical attractiveness is a visual cue for fertility. Features such as "soft skin, full-looking lips and colourful cheeks" are not just attractive, but also associated with youth, which indicates a woman's fertility. That is why men tend to go for younger women, he added.

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