Discriminatory Attitude Toward Vulnerable Groups in Singapore: Prevalence, Predictors, and Pattern

Main Article Content

Nur Amali Aminnuddin


Presently, there is a lack of psychological and quantitative studies in Singapore about discriminatory attitudes. This paper aimed to contribute to this aspect. However, to examine actual behavior can be difficult due to the sensitive nature of the needed data. Hence, this study approached discrimination at an attitudinal level. Six vulnerable groups were examined in this study. They consisted of people of a different race, immigrants or foreign workers, homosexuals, people living with HIV/AIDS, people of a different religion, and unmarried couples living together. Two research questions were posed: 1) What is the prevalence of having discriminatory attitude toward vulnerable groups? and 2) What are the predictors of these discriminatory attitudes? Using a sample population of 1,972 Singaporeans, descriptive analysis and binomial logistic regression analysis were conducted. Firstly, based on the results, the prevalence ranged between 10.76% to 42.46%. Singaporeans have discriminatory attitude toward vulnerable groups who can be categorized into two: the least discriminated (three groups ranging between 10.76% to 15.48%) and the highly discriminated (three groups ranging between 30.86% to 42.46%). Secondly, binomial logistic regression showed support for several significant predictors such as emphasis on the importance of religion and tradition, and employment status, depending on the model assessed. However, one pattern was observed in all the models, that a person who discriminates one group is more likely to discriminate another group. The findings were then discussed and explained within the context of Singapore.

Article Details

How to Cite
Aminnuddin, N. A. (2019). Discriminatory Attitude Toward Vulnerable Groups in Singapore: Prevalence, Predictors, and Pattern. The Journal of Behavioral Science, 14(2), 15–30. Retrieved from https://so06.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/IJBS/article/view/167086
Research Articles


Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018). Sample size calculator. Retrieved December 25, 2018, from http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/home/Sample+Size+Calculator

Barr, M. D., & Low, J. (2005). Assimilation as multiracialism: The case of Singapore’s Malays. Asian Ethnicity, 6(3), 161–182. doi:10.1080/14631360500226606

Chew, P. K. H. (2018). Racism in Singapore: A review and recommendations for future research. Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, 12, E5. doi:10.1017/prp.2018.3

Chin, Y., & Vasu, N. (2012). Ties that bind and blind: A report on inter-racial and inter-religious relations in Singapore. Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

Chua, L. J., Su, D., Tan, R. K. J., & Jie, K. W. (2017). Decriminalisation of same-sex relations and social attitudes: An empirical study of Singapore. Hong Kong Law Journal, 47(3), 793–824.

Goh, D. (2008). It’s the gays’ fault: News and HIV as weapons against homosexuality in Singapore. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 32(4), 383–399. doi:10.1177/0196859908320295

Gomes, C. (2014). Xenophobia online: Unmasking Singaporean attitudes towards “foreign talent” migrants. Asian Ethnicity, 15(1), 21–40. doi:10.1080/14631369.2013.784511

Haney, J. L. (2016). Predictors of homonegativity in the United States and the Netherlands using the fifth wave of the World Values Survey. Journal of Homosexuality, 63(10), 1355–1377. doi:10.1080/00918369.2016.1157997

Hill, M. J. (2013). What you see is what you get: 30 years of the HIV epidemic. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 17(4), 415–419. doi:10.1080/19359705.2013.817898

Inglehart, R., C. Haerpfer, A. Moreno, C. Welzel, K. Kizilova, J. Diez-Medrano, M. Lagos, P. Norris, E. Ponarin & B. Puranen et al. (eds.). 2014. World Values Survey: Round Six - Country-Pooled Datafile Version. Madrid: JD Systems Institute. Retrieved from http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSDocumentationWV6.jsp.

Jones, G. (2012). Late marriage and low fertility in Singapore: The limits of policy. The Japanese Journal of Population, 10(1), 89–101.

Kessler, T., & Mummendey, A. (2001). Is there any scapegoat around? Determinants of intergroup conflicts at different categorization levels. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(6), 1090–1102. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.81.6.1090

Kirkpatrick, L. A. (1993). Fundamentalism, Christian orthodoxy, and intrinsic religious orientation as predictors of discriminatory attitudes. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 32(3), 256. doi:10.2307/1386664

Lian, K. F. (2016). Multiculturalism in Singapore: Concept and practice. In K. F. Lian (Ed.), Multiculturalism, migration, and the politics of identity in Singapore (Vol. 1, pp. 11–29). Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-287-676-8_2

Manalastas, E. J., Ojanen, T. T., Torre, B. A., Ratanashevorn, R., Hong, B. C. C., Kumaresan, V., & Veeramuthu, V. (2017). Homonegativity in Southeast Asia: Attitudes toward lesbian and Gay men in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Asia-Pacific Social Science Review, 17(1), 25–33.

Mathews, M. (2013). Indicators of racial and religious harmony: An IPS-OnePeople.sg study. Singapore: Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

Mathews, M. (2015). The state and implication of our differences: Insights from the IPS Survey on Race, Religion and Language. In M. Mathews, C. Gee, & C. W. Fong (Eds.), Singapore perspectives 2014 (pp. 107–141). doi:10.1142/9789814618939_0008

Mathews, M. (2016). Channel NewsAsia-Institute of Policy Studies (CNA-IPS) survey on race relations. Singapore: Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore.

Moore, R. Q. (2000). Multiracialism and meritocracy: Singapore’s approach to race and inequality. Review of Social Economy, 58(3), 339–360. doi:10.1080/00346760050132364

Ooi, G. L. (2005). The role of the developmental state and interethnic relations in Singapore. Asian Ethnicity, 6(2), 109–120. doi:10.1080/14631360500135336

Pew Research Center. (2014). Global religious diversity: Half of the most religiously diverse countries are in Asia-Pacific region. Retrieved from https://assets.pewresearch.org/ wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2014/01/global-religion-full.pdf

Singapore Department of Statistics. (2018). Yearbook of statistics Singapore, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.singstat.gov.sg/publications/reference/yearbook-of-statistics-singapore

Sinha, V. (2005). Theorising “talk” about “religious pluralism” and “religious harmony” in Singapore. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 20(1), 25–40. doi:10.1080/1353790052000313891

Slenders, S., Sieben, I., & Verbakel, E. (2014). Tolerance towards homosexuality in Europe: Population composition, economic affluence, religiosity, same-sex union legislation and HIV rates as explanations for country differences. International Sociology, 29(4), 348–367. doi:10.1177/0268580914535825

Swank, E., Fahs, B., & Frost, D. M. (2013). Region, social identities, and disclosure practices as predictors of heterosexist discrimination against sexual minorities in the United States. Sociological Inquiry, 83(2), 238–258. doi:10.1111/soin.12004

Tan, R. K. J. (2018). Internalized homophobia, HIV knowledge, and HIV/AIDS personal responsibility beliefs: Correlates of HIV/AIDS discrimination among MSM in the context of institutionalized stigma. Journal of Homosexuality. doi:10.1080/00918369.2018.1491249

Velayutham, S. (2017). Races without racism?: Everyday race relations in Singapore. Identities, 24(4), 455–473. doi:10.1080/1070289X.2016.1200050

Wong, T., Yeoh, B. S. A., Graham, E. F., & Teo, P. (2004). Spaces of silence: Single parenthood and the “normal family” in Singapore. Population, Space and Place, 10(1), 43–58. doi:10.1002/psp.314