The method adopted in this study is secondary data analysis. It is a methodological approach based on using data designed for different purposes than the objectives declared in the study. The World Love Index is a scientific project based on the method of secondary data analysis of surveys; available data consist of the set of answers given by thousands of respondents in world-size surveys.
Two world surveys datasets currently meet our selection criteria: Gallup World Poll (GWP) and World Values Survey (WVS), two longitudinal surveys administered worldwide in around 100 countries. GWP and WVS are the data sources selected in this study, because they have a world territorial extension and collect informations about concepts related to Social Love. Among the questions included in the GWP and WVS questionnaires, the research team selected some items, considered good indicators of Social Love dimensions.
The research team relied on content validation procedure: some experts are asked to evaluate the capability of each selected indicator to represent semantically the general concept of Social Love and its constitutive dimensions. The following questions are considered by the experts as being valid indicators of the SL dimensions:
1. Overabounding dimension:
1.1. “Have you done any of the following in the past month? How about volunteered your time to an organization? (Yes or No)”
1.2. “Have you done any of the following in the past month? How about donated money to a charity? (Yes or No)”
1.3. “Now I am going to read off a list of voluntary organizations. For each organization, could you tell me whether you are an active member, an inactive member or not a member of that type of organization? (Active or Inactive member or Not a member)
– Humanitarian or charitable organization.
– Environmental organization”.
2. Universalism dimension:
2.1. “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you need to be very careful in dealing with people?
(Most people can be trusted/ Need to be very careful)”.
2.2. “Have you done any of the following in the past month? Have you helped a stranger or someone you didn’t know who needed help in the past month? (Yes or No)”
2.3. “I would like to ask you how much you trust people from various groups. Could you tell me for each whether you trust people from this group? (Completely/ Somewhat/ Not very much/ Not at all)
– People of another religion
2.4. “On this list are various groups of people. Could you please mention any that you would not like to have as neighbors? (Mentioned or Not mentioned)
3. Priority of others’ benefit dimension:
3.1. “During the past two years have you given money to an ecological organization? (Yes or No)”
3.2. “I’m going to read out some problems. Please indicate which of the following problems you consider the most serious one for the world as a whole? (Mentioned or Not mentioned)
– People living in poverty and need
– Environmental pollution”
3.3. “During the past two years have you participated in a demonstration for some environmental cause? (Yes or No).
4. Recognition of others dimension:
4.1. “Here is a list of qualities that children can be encouraged to learn at home. Which, if any, do you consider to be especially important? (Mentioned or Not mentioned)
– Tolerance and respect for other people
– Unselfishness (not being selfish)”
4.2. “What would be the most important thing for you? (Mentioned or Not mentioned)
– Progress toward a less impersonal and more humane society”
Data collected through the World Values Survey 6, from 2010 to 2014, are integrated with data coming from World Giving Index (WGI) 2015. In this phase, WGI replaces GWP data. WGI is a synthetic index created by the CAF (Charity Aid Foundation), a leading international charity organization registered in the United Kingdom, to rank the most generous countries around the world. The WGI is based on three questions of GWP, the same questions we considered valid indicators of the SL dimensions: ‘Helped a stranger, or someone you didn’t know who needed help?’; ‘Donated money to a charity?’; ‘Volunteered your time to an organization?’. WGI is the average of the answers given by the respondents, in each country, to these three questions in the last five years from 2010-2014.
Therefore, World Love Index is made of:
- a territorial extension of 55 countries (the countries WVS 6 and WGI have in common);
- a time frame from 2010 to 2014;
- indicators selected by the panel of experts;
- an aggregated data matrix, where individual answers given by the respondents are aggregated at national level.
After the indicators are validated theoretically and anchored to the different sub-dimensions of social love concept, the following step is multivariate statistical analysis. The factor analysis is employed to assess the empirical relationships between the indicators and their common semantic sub-dimensions.
Factor analysis is the most suitable data analysis approach to reach the following empirical objectives: multi-dimensional concept clarification and indicators validation to construct synthetic indexes.
The two most informative factors in our analysis are:
- “Dimension of action: overaboundance”;
- “Types of orientation of overabounding action”.
Helping a stranger in need, donating money to charitable organizations, donating time in voluntary activities, and donating money to environmental organizations are the most valid indicators of the dimension of overabounding action, in the matrix of the World Love Index. These indicators refer to a practical action, which goes beyond what the others think it is necessary to do.
The opinion about poverty as the greatest problem for the whole of humanity, and the idea that the environmental pollution represents the greatest global threat for humanity, are valid indicators (even if these variables are associated negatively) of the second dimension: it represents towards whom or what it is worth directing the overabounding action: the poor and people in need, or the environment suffocated by pollution produced by human activity.
The social love action can be observed not only at the individual level but also at the institutional level. Each nation carries out a range of institutional actions that may, or may not, fall into the category of social love actions.
The use of ecological indicators allows us to reproduce predictable global properties directly from the territorial units, the information is collected at the territorial level and refers to the territorial unit of reference.
The process of defining and building the World Love Index, starting from aggregate properties, has allowed us to identify two types of social love orientations:
- one linked to the protection of individuals in need, which we could define as traditional social love;
- the other one linked to environmental protection, which we could define as modern social love.
Starting from an in-depth analysis of the ecological indicators made available by the main international statistical bodies, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, we have selected two indices:
- Humanitarian Protection Index (UNHCR – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees);
- Red List Index (IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature).
These indices offer us the opportunity to deepen our reflection on the two types of social love orientations identified, completing an analysis that, starting from individual opinions extends to state orientations.
Humanitarian Protection Index is created from UNHCR data. HPI is the proportion of asylum-seekers accorded refugee status or a complementary form of protection by the total number of substantive decisions (Convention status, complementary protection and rejected cases) multiplied by 100.
The index was corrected for the total number of requests received by each state in order to differentiate the states which, despite having a similar humanitarian protection index, have granted refugee status to a considerably different number of applicants.
The Red List Index (RLI) is based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is an indicator of the relative rate at which the conservation status of certain species groups changes in time. RLI is a rappresentation to a biodiversity status and trends in the regions of world.
The index is based on genuine changes in the number of species in each category of extinction risk and is expressed as changes in an index ranging from 0 (all species are categorized as ‘Extinct’) to 1 (all species are categorized as ‘Least Concern’).
The indices (HPI and RLI) have been standardized in order to make the two distributions comparable.