Health and wealth are the two things the Swiss value above all, according to a new study, which showed that the Swiss remain firm pragmatists.This content was published on August 12, 2002 - 20:15
Abstract ideals, such as world peace, tolerance and faith, came way down the list of priorities.
Researchers at the University of Zurich asked 1,500 people what their three wishes would be should their fairy godmother suddenly appear waving her magic wand.
But there was nothing airy-fairy about the responses, which showed a down-to-earth concern for health, work and personal possessions.
Pragmatism versus idealism
The study, carried out for the sWISH pavilion at Expo.02, found 26.9 per cent of Swiss wished for good health. An equally high percentage put prosperity and career success at the top of their wish lists.
More abstract ideals such as world peace, tolerance and faith came in further down the list, with 12.6 per cent, 3.9 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively.
"People don't wish for things they can't attain, they are pragmatic," the report's co-author, Heinz Gutscher, told swissinfo.
Gutscher said the study had revealed "a very high level of satisfaction with life in general". The Swiss were strong believers in self-reliance and assumed responsibility for fulfilling their own desires, he said.
Gutscher added that the majority of wishes fitted into three main categories: the pragmatic, the material and the spiritual. In general, older respondents showed themselves to be more pragmatic and less materialistic.
But age was not the only factor influencing the responses. As usual with this type of study, clear differences emerged between the different language regions.
While Swiss Germans had their feet planted firmly on the ground, the Swiss French and Italians were more inclined to put ideals such as peace at the top of their list.
"The differences between the regions - cultural, language regions - were so huge," Gutscher said. For example, twice as many people in French-speaking Switzerland were interested in improving working conditions for women than in German-speaking areas.
But perhaps the biggest difference was between the Italian-speaking region and the rest of the country.
Thirty per cent of Italian Swiss wished for love, tolerance and other spiritual ideals - twice the figure from the French- and German-speaking areas.
More than a quarter of Swiss valued good health and prosperity above all.
Abstract ideals such as world peace, tolerance and faith were seen as less important.
Italian-speaking Swiss were far more idealistic than their German- and French-speaking cousins.
Older respondents were less materialistic.
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