Decision Paralysis

Firm’s perspectives on how ‘decision paralysis’ affects their business and decision-making, and how to address the issue.

Ever felt stumped by what to watch on YouTube or settled on some lousy food because you did not know what to choose? Well, you just faced decision paralysis, which is the complete inability to decide because of too many choices. In this short essay, we will be discussing the whats, whys and hows about this phenomenon that affects the businesses and the general economy. 

Consumers’ inability to choose because of choice overload will result in the consumers not purchasing any goods and thus producers are not able to maximise profit. Decision paralysis stems from the human brain’s lack of capacity to process so much information. Humans simply cannot form objective judgements of the value of the many different items and make a choice between them. When there are so many choices, we mere mortal beings are unable to make the most optimal choice that would maximise their consumer welfare. There is a combination of factors — the fear of making the wrong decision and the immediate need to make a choice this instant without being certain of the yield, that leads to consumers’ indecision. Producers provide a wide array of choices, believing that diversifying the consumer’s choices will increase their profits since there are more choices to suit their personal taste and preferences. However, this will actually result in a loss of profits due to decision paralysis. 

To illustrate this, we will look at one classic experiment that was run by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper in a San Francisco supermarket in 1999. Customers were randomly asked to sample jam and the experiment would see who bought jam in the end. Half of the customers were allowed to sample 24 different jams while the other half were allowed to sample 6 different jams.

According to traditional economics, more variation and consumer choice would maximise utility and consumer welfare, hence offering 24 jams should lead to more jam purchases.

Surprisingly, the results observed were the exact opposite of this traditional theory. Only 3% of those who sampled 24 jams ended up buying jam, while a whopping 30% of those who sampled just six jams ended up buying. Hence, this shows that more choices leads to worsened decision paralysis and hence erodes profits. For supermarkets which are taken to be firms, this means that providing too many choices would lead to consumers not even making a purchase. Hence, demand for their goods decreases and profit decreases. If the cost of supplying these goods is more than the profit earned from selling the same goods, the supermarkets (firms) will experience a loss in total revenue.

As seen in Fig 1, for an oligopolistic or monopolistic firm that was making supernormal profits such as YouTube, when consumers are met with decision paralysis, demand falls as seen by the leftward shift of the demand curve from DD0 to DD1 and thus will lead to subnormal profits. 

Fig 1: Decrease in profits for firms such as YouTube due to decision paralysis

Here’s a brilliant example of decision paralysis being overcome — YouTube. The company earns through ad revenue which increases as the number of streams increases. For some context, YouTube generated $15 billion in 2019, $11 billion in 2018, and $8 billion in 2017 to Alphabet from their ad revenue. With the gargantuan amount  of videos on YouTube (500 hours of videos are uploaded each day), one might think that individuals will find it difficult to choose which one to watch, which potentially results in the decision to not watch anything at all. With no viewership, no ad revenue is generated and YouTube will be unable to earn. Thus, theoretically, decision paralysis leads to the loss of profits to producers like YouTube.

However, there are a few measures for producers to take in order to combat decision paralysis and prevent it from affecting their business. Two of these ways will be explored in further detail below. 

Firstly, through analysing consumer’s data and history, firms like Youtube will recommend videos that cater to consumers’ personal preferences, narrowing the choices of videos to watch and thus alleviating decision paralysis. A smaller pool of choices will result in higher ability to make decisions as the need for mental processing has been minimised. This is also a marketing strategy that encourages viewers to continue watching videos that are similar to their interests, so that they can stay on the app for as long as possible, and thus seeing as many ads as possible.

Secondly, companies can take advantage of human tendency to follow others by using algorithmic recommendations. When one sees what others are viewing, they are more inclined to check it out too. Thus, this will generate greater viewership for the firm and would also help consumers make a choice as the assumption made would be that more people viewing equates to the better choice. With increased viewership, the firm would be able to maximise profits. This can be seen through how YouTube and many other social media platforms curates a daily ‘Trending’ page, where they recommend the most popular videos to users. 

Decision paralysis is commonly experienced in our society, where consumerism is the way of life. Products are being shoved in our faces all the time and advertisements are telling us to buy things! How on earth do we decide what to buy?! In our essay, we hope to have enlightened you on this daily struggle of consumers and how this impacts businesses, as well as how businesses strategies to overcome this problem. 

by: Myra Koh Yujie (20-A6), Lim Kia Hsuen Sheryl (20-A3) and Laura Choo Suyin (20-E2)


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Nordstrom, D. (2015). Decision-Paralysis: Why It’s Prevalent And Three Ways To End It. Retrieved 16 February 2021, from

Slonim, R., 2019. Inducing choice paralysis: how retailers bury customers in an avalanche of options. [online] The Conversation. Available at: [Accessed 16 February 2021].

The Science of Analysis Paralysis & Why It Kills Productivity. (2015). Retrieved 16 February 2021, from

Poetry from the Portfolio Project


The Empty Dream

In the winter months it snows,

The lady’s hair, white as willows,

as she grows old.

The moon is out, but she stays sleepless,

In the night that felt endless

She dreads the years that follow.

From afar, faintly, a flute plays,

Lingering in the air, are sounds of sorrow. 

As she yearns to see her lover.

How much she misses him, only he knows. 











The Beauty and the Flower

In the pond sits a single red flower,

Akin to a bright flame in still waters.

At the edge, on one side of a bench, 

a young lady rests, feeling lonely,

a breeze blowing past her face gently.

Drip, drop, drip, drop.

The rain falls, incessantly; 

The lady weeps, ceaselessly,

The flame fades, gradually.

As the saying goes, beauty is a curse.

Who is more lonely, the flower or the lady?












問世人道, 紅顏薄命。




Feelings Fade

Passing notes, breakfast before school 

They were joined at the hip, in the spring afternoon.

Candlelit dinners, accompanied by melodic tunes

Under the gloomy sunset, and the chilly autumn breeze, 

were two puppets without a soul.



折紙字條 課前早飯

春日午後 如影隨形

提琴伴奏 燭光晚餐

秋風晚霞 紙皮剪影


All poems by: 游睿蒽 Yew Rui En Rachel (20-A1)

Translated by: 黄梓彦 Christopher Wong (20-I4)

Learning like a Baby

During graduate study, I took a module titled ‘Designing for learning by creating’ by Karen Brennan. A paragraph in the course syllabus read:

I find grades stressful. Too often, I see grades preventing people from taking intellectual risks, discouraging people from being bold, causing people to worry about the least important part of the process. So let us remove that concern. You have an’A’. If you’re attending class, participating in activities, making a sincere intellectual investment in the course material, etc. ,this will not change.

Perhaps this clause was possible because my classmates cared deeply about their learning and would not use it as an opportunity to slack off (this was at the Harvard Graduate School of Education). Regardless, that was the first and only time I had encountered such an assessment system. I remember how planning my final project was so completely liberating because I was not afraid of doing something that might be too difficult, something that I might get stuck on and”fail”at. I did not agonise over balancing passion with what would also”work best”at fulfilling the assessment rubric requirements. Instead, I could ask, What am I curious about? What do I want to explore? What project will stretch me the most intellectually and contribute the most to my learning, regardless of whether it “succeeds”?I recently became a first-time mother and I spend a fair bit of time observing my five-month-old baby Ezra navigate his world. To me, watching him connects with the spirit of that module, reminding me to be curious and inviting me to contemplate the richness of learning that could unfold when exploration takes centre stage. 

Ezra and I have a naptime routine which ends with me putting him in his cot, drawing the curtains and popping his pacifier in his mouth. Invariably, he would fidget and it would fall out before he falls asleep. He would then reach for his pacifier and try to put it back. However, his hand-eye-mouth coordination still needs work and he frequently swipes his pacifier off his bed by accident,at which I would proclaim,"Uh oh! Cumi ja kai! “This translates to” [your] pacifier has fallen! “-a mash-up of Hungarian (“cumi”) and Kristang("ja kai”) , and a nod to his half-Hungarian and half-Kristang Eurasian heritage.

I watch him bring his cumi towards his mouth and miss, and am tempted to swoop in and do it for him. I often do, because my intervention means he falls asleep sooner, without me having to pick up, wash, sterilise and return his cumi again, and again and again. . .

I keep watching as my wriggly bundle of smiles reaches his chubby baby fingers towards his just-out-of-reach cumi, and, with a grunt (“Eh! “) , wiggles his bum a few centimetres forward, grabs his cumi, shoves it towards his face the wrong way around, and then drops it, where it falls on his cot mattress teat-side up. I expect him to reach out again. He does not. Instead, he face-plants into the mattress, and-somehow-gets his mouth over the teat of his cumi! “Ugyes baba! “I squeal with pride (“skilful baby! “) as he merrily sucks on the cumi that he put in his mouth.

Here, I wonder, what will I see if I suppress the urge to swoop in and help Ezra with whatever new problem his baby brain is tackling? How many new and delightful solutions will he find? What else will he learn along the way? 

I mapped out some of my observations of Ezra’s cumi explorations and came up with this:

In reflecting on these observations, what initially looks to me like problem-solving – how do I put my cumi in my mouth? – might really be just a tiny part of a great big quest to explore, where curiosity and learning takes centre stage.

I am struck by how limited his learning would be if he were only interested in achieving the”successful outcome” of putting his cumi in his mouth (quickly) and going to sleep (quickly) . While my adult brain might tend towards this outcome, I speculate that Ezra’s baby brain favours exploring and learning, and is not particularly concerned with “failing” to achieve the “successful outcome”. Because exploring possibilities reveals new solutions (like face-planting into a cumi). If not, we learn what does not work. As a bonus, we might uncover unexpected outcomes, like the fact that we really enjoy playing with the mosquito net. 

Watching Ezra reminds me of my work in my classroom of JC1 students, where seeing them struggle tempts me to swoop in and suggest a way forward so that the work would be completed sooner. And just as I often swoop in to help Ezra prematurely because I am exhausted and just want him to sleep, I too swoop in to help students more often than I would care to admit, because Socratic questioning is exhausting and I still have another 24 students to attend to. Then I think of how proud I was when Ezra face-planted into his cumi and how the pieces of student feedback I am always most proud of are the ones saying”Ms de Souza teaches us to think. “

Ezra reminds me to watch, wait and honour the learning. 

Soon, my students will choose projects to work on. I hope that they will be guided by curiosity. That they will explore possibilities and push themselves to “be bold” and “take intellectual risks”. And while there is still an assessment rubric to consider, in the balance between doing something that will “work best” at showcasing the rubric requirements and one that will contribute the most to their learning, I hope the balance will tip towards the latter. 

Ezra reminds me of the kind of learning I hope to see my students and myself embrace. And as Ezra gets older, I hope he will always approach learning the way his five-month-old self does.

by Ms Adrienne de Souza

作品出处:The Birthday Book


在研究生学习期间,我选修了凯伦·布伦南教授(Karen Brennan)的一门名为“通过创造来学习”的课程。课程大纲中有这么一段话:我觉得成绩让人很有压力。我常常看见人们因为成绩不敢积极地去挑战知识上的难题、失去犯错的勇气,只会担心学习过程中最琐碎的的问题。让我们放下这些顾虑吧。这门课你已经获得“A”了。只要你出席这门课、积极参加活动并认真学习课程材料,这“A”便不会改变



我每天哄以斯拉睡午觉都有个固定流程。流程的最后一步就是由我把他抱到婴儿床上、拉上窗帘并把奶嘴塞进他的嘴里。他总是不停乱动,还没睡着,奶嘴便掉了。于是他便会伸手去捡他的奶嘴,想把奶嘴放回嘴里。然而,他的手、眼与嘴巴的协调能力仍然还有很大的进步空间,经常一不小心就将奶嘴从床上扫到地上。每当我看到这一幕时,我便大喊道:“哎呀!Cumi ja kai!”这翻译过来就是“奶嘴掉了!”——一句话混搭了匈牙利语(“cumi”)和克里斯坦语(“ja kai”),也算是对他一半匈牙利、一半克里斯坦的欧亚血统的认可。


我继续注视着我的小开心果扭动着,看他用尽全力将自己那胖乎乎的小手伸向奶嘴,可惜还差那么一点才能够着。他不禁哼了一声。“嗯!”紧接着,他的屁股向前扭动了几厘米,抓住自己的奶嘴,再将它扫向自己的脸上。万万没想到,奶嘴掉在了他的婴儿床上——奶嘴头朝上。我原以为他会再伸手去够奶嘴。但他没有。相反的,他将脸趴在床垫上,然后不知怎么的用嘴巴盖住了奶嘴头! 看着他将奶嘴塞进嘴里然后开开心心地吮吸着,我骄傲地尖叫道:“Ugyes baba!( 真是个灵巧的宝宝!)”





看着以斯拉的成长让我想起了我的高一学生们。正如我疲倦的时候经常过早地帮助以斯拉,以让他尽快入睡,每当看到这学生为作业挣扎时,我也总是很想冲上前为他们提出建议,以便他们更快地完成工作。尽管我不愿承认,我也经常过早地帮助学生们,因为苏格拉底式的提问很累人,而且我还有其他24个学生需要照看。这时,我便会想到:当以斯拉把脸栽进他的奶嘴时,身为妈妈的我是多么的自豪!而身为老师,我觉得最引以为傲的,则莫过于写着“de Souza老师教我们思考”的学生反馈。





Translated by: Lin Ziyin (20-A1)

If I Become Rich One Day

If I become rich one day

My first instinct isn’t to travel the world

I’ll lie on the world’s largest and most comfortable couch

Eat, sleep and repeat for a whole year 

Ever since I heard this song by Chinese Singer Mao Buyi, it has been stuck in my head. On the surface, there seems to be nothing special about this song — it even has a tinge of negativity. But after listening to it and taking in every word, you will realise this song has a strong message, that youngsters like us can resonate with. 

Indeed– what would I do if I really become rich one day? 

As a kid, my answer would definitely be to travel the world! However, as I grow up, I slowly understand that having lots of money is only one of the conditions to fulfil this “dream” of mine. On top of that, I need to have the capability and freedom to put aside time for this. In Singapore, every aspect of our lives are fast-paced, and that makes travelling the world an extravagant dream. This is especially so with the world’s top class education system driving us forward, causing us to feel suffocated by the heavy (academic and non-academic) workload. And whenever we have free time, we often yearn to do what the song lyrics say: have a lazy day with no work or worries, lay on our cozy beds for a nice long nap, and do anything we want when we wake up. Or sometimes, just simply do nothing at all! In fact, how many of those adults who hustle on weekdays and bustle with chores on weekends yearn to do the same? But the harsh reality is that everyone has their  responsibility in society, one that they cannot escape from. Hence from this perspective, the desire for this laidback lifestyle may not be a bad thing; at least it motivates us to seize the day. Work hard and play hard should be a life philosophy that youngsters like us should embody. 

If I become rich one day

I can keep everyone close to me 

Laugh, eat, drink and repeat everyday

With no worries about tomorrow or goodbyes

“All good things come to an end”. I still vividly remember the day when I graduated from primary school and my form teacher handed me my graduation certificate. Surrounded by my teachers and classmates, it was meant to be a joyous occasion, yet I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I was well aware of the fact that in this generation of advanced communication technology, we could still keep in contact after graduation and Singapore isn’t that big, so we could always arrange to meet up. Even so, I could not help but dread this parting, fearing that we would become strangers and drift apart . Eventually, I have come to realise that each of us have our own lives to lead, our own paths to walk, and with the passage of time, drifting apart is a reality we cannot avoid. Even if we make it a point to stay connected, these online interactions becomes superficial over time, till one day we will barely know one another on a surface level. When the net is broken, the fish swims away. Goodbyes are part and parcel of life, and what’s important is how we graciously accept it and cross that hurdle within us. As the saying goes: To miss is better than to meet. May we take each goodbye with a little more positivity and a little less negativity.

“Becoming rich, becoming rich,

How many have wasted their time all day and night

Becoming rich, becoming rich,

And then pretended to be humble by claiming that money was not everything”

Money cannot buy us time. Indeed, time is extremely valuable. We cannot buy back the time we have lost, but if we make good use of it, it allows us to lead a more fruitful life.

We constantly lament about how fast time passes by, but we do not treasure and make good use of the time we have in the present. This vicious cycle then repeats itself. Are we going to let it continue? Seizing the moment is enough to grant us spiritual satisfaction, so all the more we should stop wasting time dwelling on our regrets.

“If I became rich one day,

I will buy all those rare smiles

Let all vulnerable children have no more fears,

And all evil to lose their right to speak”

Smiles always brightens people’s days, be it from one’s parents, friends, lovers or even strangers. During the Eunoia Junior College’s 2018 Bicultural Studies Programme overseas trip, a group of us followed ChongQing No.8 Middle School students to a nursing home near their campus ground and had lighthearted interactions with the elderly. Time flew by; in seemingly a split second, the excitement then has now become part of the memories. Till today, I still remember Granny Wang’s kind smile. Even though she could not express herself clearly, the genuity in her eyes made me determined to communicate with her no matter what. Even though I could not stay by her side for long,  I tried my best to make her happy with the limited time I had,– be it by dancing or singing. I also managed to take a picture with her as a memento. During the time spent with her, I could feel how lonely she was, how happy and touched she felt when we went to visit their nursing home and how she could not bear to let us go when we were leaving. That was the first time we met, and mostly likely our last, but her smile constantly warms my heart, pushing me forward.

There are many people who are less fortunate than us in this world, but when we are successful and enjoying ourselves, we rarely pay attention to others’ pain and struggles. On one side of the world, here we are, enjoying our stable life without having to worry about the bare necessities. Yet on the other side of the world, there are plenty of people who are suffering from the shortage of food and clothing and are constantly starving. 

What’s fortunate is that many capable and ambitious people hold a grateful heart and know to give back to society, displaying the best of human nature. Jose Mujica, Uruguay’s former president donated 90 percent of his salary to charity organisations when he was still in office. He even rejected government funding after he retired, living a simple but meaningful life.

Similarly, Malala Yousafzai, an activist from Pakistan who fought for female education rights won the Nobel Peace Prize when she was just 17. She was the youngest Nobel prize recipient ever. Despite being threatened by the Taliban, and was even shot by the Talibans, she never gave up her mission, that is to stop the unfair treatment of women and continue to fight for their education rights. Of course, there are many other successful people who gave back to society, for example, Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and many more…

Even though Mao Buyi’s “If I became rich one day” was a song that kept emphasising on the fantasy of becoming rich, it’s last sentence “From the bottom of our hearts, we can then truly say that money is not everything” was able to shed light on the song’s real purpose- Money can’t buy everything. It is indeed important as it allows us to survive and fulfill our materialistic satisfactions. Yet it will never be able to grant us spiritual satisfaction. Since we became obsessed with monetary gains, we tend to neglect the most valuable things around us, like time and kinship. As the Chinese saying goes, “The tree would prefer stillness, but the wind continues to blow. The child wishes to practice filial devotion, but his parents are already gone”. There are some things in life that you will not get to redo. If we do not treasure our loved ones now, we may not have a chance to love them when they are gone. Hence, I hope that people will look past the practicalities of life and pay more attention to other things besides money, grabbing the opportunities to love and care for family and friends instead of wasting precious time!

Translated by Lee Hui En 李卉蒽 (20-I4)

and Quek Zhi Jun 郭芷君 (20-A6)








——这个问题如果是问年少时的我,我的答案一定是环游世界!只是长大后的我们都渐渐明白,金钱只是实现“幻想”的条件之一,除此之外还必须具有与之匹配的能力和支配时间的自由。而生活在各方面节奏都很快的新加坡,环游世界对绝大多数人来说真的是一种奢望,尤其是作为世界顶尖的教育系统中砥砺前行的我们,平时在繁重的课内外任务的“压迫”下常常有种喘不过气的感觉。偶有闲暇时的渴望就是能像歌中所说:拥有慵懒的一天,抛开所有任务和烦恼,躺在舒服的床上,睡个懒觉,起来后想做什么就做什么,什么都不做也完全可以。其实,平时忙着打工、周末忙着家务的大人们,何尝没有同样的渴望?只是现实中每一个人都有各自既定的、无法逃避的社会责任罢了。从这层面上来说,对慵懒生活的渴望也未必是件坏事,起码它成了促使我们努力在当下的动力。Work hard & play hard,是我们年轻人应有的生活哲学。
















在这世上比我们不幸的人很多,但我们在享受快乐、成功的时候却很少关注他人的痛苦。在世界这一端的我们过着衣食无忧的安定生活。在世界的另一端,却有许多人缺衣少食、三餐不继。值得庆幸的是,许多有能力、有抱负的人不忘恩负义,懂得回报社会,展现了人性善良的一面。Jose Mujica, 乌拉圭(Uraguay)的前任总统,在任时把自己每月百分之九十的薪水捐给了慈善机构,就连任职结束后也拒绝了政府资助金,过着平淡但具有意义的生活。同样的,马拉拉·尤萨夫扎伊(Malala Yousafzai), 一位出生于巴基斯坦(Pakistan)的一位活动家,她为争取女性教育而奋斗,17岁时荣获了诺贝尔和平奖,是所有诺贝尔奖项中最年轻的获奖人。尽管面临塔利班的反对,还曾遭遇塔利班枪击,不过在被抢救后,马拉拉不放弃自己的使命,不让女性继续承受不平等待遇,继续为争取女性教育而努力。当然还有更多的成功人士,不忘回报社会,比如微软创始人比尔盖茨、Facebook创始人扎克伯格······


作者: 郭源峻 (18-O5)

我为何选择翻译本作品:我选这篇文章的原因是因为它分析了毛不易的一首歌的歌词,我觉得这一点很特别。这样不但能让英文读者接触到华文歌,也能让那些听过这首歌的人,意识到这首歌想传达的信息。另外,作者在分析歌词时,也谈到了年轻人在生活中面对着很现实的一些问题和烦恼, 所以身为年轻人的我能产生共鸣。最后,他谈到了最重要的一点,就是钱不是万能的,所以我们应该多看看金钱以外的世界。我觉得很多人都晓得这一点,却总还是看不开。这篇文章重新提醒了我们这个道理,所以希望翻译后,能让更多人再次领悟到这个道理。

Politics and Economics: Who is Speaking the Truth?


Hello! Many of you may have stumbled upon this research piece, in light of the very intriguing title. So let’s dive straight in and find out who is speaking the truth when it comes to economic policies, looking from the legal and economic point of view. 

Minimum Wage

Let’s take a look at the minimum wage, which found its way back into the centre of the Singapore General Election 2020. Every Economics student can simply tell you that minimum wage refers to a legally established price floor for salaries. This means that employers will have to pay their employees a minimum amount of wages, and anything below is illegal. It was implemented in most countries, except notably Singapore and Scandinavian countries. 

The minimum wage which was suggested, as well as, contested in Parliament by Economist and MP Jamus Lim is universal. This means that everyone, regardless of which sector they belong in, will be entitled to this privilege. [1] [2] According to NTUC deputy secretary-general Koh Poh Koon, an estimated 32,000 full-time workers earn below this amount[1], and it is believed that the minimum wage will drastically improve their standard of living. However, a commonly brought up limitation of the minimum wage is that it brings about unemployment, especially to workers whose professions are easily substitutable by machines and requires little training time (hence |PED|>1 and |PES|> 1 respectively). Thus labour-intensive and menial workers are more vulnerable to retrenchment. 

Isn’t this the opposite of what the government would want, where one of the macroeconomics goals is to achieve low unemployment? Instead of getting a low salary, people now have no source of income anymore! 

Not to fret, as many reports, including that done by research institute Integrity Florida, cited that an increase in the minimum wage does not lead to increased unemployment[3] [4]  [2]which ties in to Singapore, as the rise in salary for these workers will not necessarily lead to a loss in jobs.  As an increase in income leads to an increase in purchasing powers, thus the demand for goods and services will too increase, especially for normal (household items) and luxury goods (items sold by luxury brands), leading to an increase in derived demand for labour. So it should be safe to say that if Singapore does implement a minimum wage, not only will unemployment potentially decrease, but the standard of living will increase. 

But why then, does the PAP stand firmly against the minimum wage? 

Singapore is a nation that heavily values meritocracy, and rewards those who work hard accordingly. It is no wonder that we then choose to embrace the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) instead[3]. Simply put, it is a ‘ladder’ for both employers and employees, whereby employees can improve their skills through workshops and classes, in turn for a higher salary and job stability. Employers benefit too as this increase in skill levels leads to higher productivity at work and an increase in total revenue earned, ‘climbing up’ the mentioned ladder, which is something profit-maximising companies strive for. The national movement SkillsFuture can be said to complement the PWM as it offers Singaporeans from all walks of life the opportunity to, as the name suggests, upgrade their skills for the future. For now, the PWM has been implemented in 3 sectors, namely the cleaning, security and landscape industries, and aims to be implemented in more sectors in years to come. Additionally, evidence has shown that the PWM has been successful, as an estimated 80,000 employees will benefit from the scheme, according to Minister Zaqy Mohamed[4]. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has acknowledged that older citizens on the bottom levels of the ‘ladder’ earn little, and multiple schemes have been put in place to help them financially. Examples include the Special Employment Credit Scheme, which automatically pays these individuals more money based on their CPF payments. 

After considering both sides of the debate about the implementation of minimum wage in Singapore, the question remains. Did MP Jamus Lim suggest a populist idea to ‘warm the cockles of our hearts’? Or is there a real need for there to be a minimum wage to improve the societal welfare of our country and assist those who truly need it? 


Now, let’s move on to a fairly simple economic policy that most countries across the globe have implemented: taxation. 

The two main objectives of the tax policy in Singapore, according to the IRAS, is to firstly, raise revenue for the government to fund policies or support infrastructure development in Singapore, in order to build a better environment with a more vibrant economy[1], and secondly to promote economic and social goals, by influencing the behaviours of the citizens. This can be seen through the taxing of demerit goods like alcohol and cigarettes, in order to decrease demand and deter people from consuming them. Taxes can come in a variety of forms: GST, Income tax, Property Tax, Road Tax and more.

Another objective of the government taxing the people is to narrow the income inequality between citizens of different socio-economic status. According to the OECD report in 2012, income inequality after taxes and transfers decreased by about 25% as compared to before taxes and transfers[2]. This is a key way in which we can tackle the issue of poverty within nations. Countries like the US employ progressive taxes, when income increases, so does their tax incidence. 

However, does the progressive tax really work? Does it really lead to income equality as most politicians promise? 

Well, a write-up done by several economists says otherwise[3]. Instead, progressive taxes do not lead to income equality but rather the opposite. This seems rather counterintuitive, right? If you increase the taxes on the higher income citizens and lower the tax on the lower-income citizens, wouldn’t that lead to greater income equality? According to the write-up, the increase in purchasing power will lead to an increase in demand for goods and services, which are more often than not, provided by individuals who are already high-income earners. Thus, progressive taxes do not necessarily lead to less income inequality as most people would expect. This can be seen from the figure below that shows how progressive taxes do not perform as what one would expect in the US. (Note: the y-axis refers to the percentage of one’s income and the x-axis refers to the different income groups in America, with the most right as the billionaires): 

A better way to tax the rich (Vox, 2019)[4]

A possible alternative that Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed in 2015 is the wealth tax. Instead of taxing citizens based on their income, the government can instead tax people based on the amount of wealth and assets they own. This includes properties, cars, companies, stocks and their individual income. This is believed to be a better representation of the amount of money one has, and it will be more logical to tax them based on their total wealth. There will be a 2% tax on fortune above $50 million, and a 3% tax on fortunes above $1 billion. In addition, Vox claimed that the government could have raised an estimated $200 million from it. This money would come in useful in building infrastructure and funding policies. 

However, as awesome as it may sound, there are several limitations. For example, how is one’s wealth to be calculated? Will everyone be willing to open up about all the purchases they have made? Would this not infringe on one’s privacy? Another question to ponder about is that if we so heavily tax the rich, are we then dissuading people from working hard to enjoy a luxurious life? Even though politicians have the charisma and persuasion to make policies sound great and life-changing, one should always take a step back to think about who is truly telling the truth. 

The link between politics and economics: 

Well, after looking at the aforementioned case studies, we have examined how economic policies are often found at the centre of politics. Every idea has its pros and cons, so does every system implemented in our society. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to solving social issues using economics, as it’s all about which bears less harm than the other, which we have learnt about through the use of rational-decision making framework. And as to ’who’ is telling the truth, we have to take a step back to analyse the entire situation. Though politics may make certain economic decisions look rational and effective, there are always hidden constraints and trade-offs that have to be recognised.

Darshan S/O Ganesa Moorthy (20-O2)


Minimum Wage:



[3] More on the PWM can be found here









This film aims to highlight the relationship between the youth and the older generation that many take for granted. The protagonist represents the youth who still have plenty of time to live their lives. The Grandmother however represents the silver generation – the backbone of our society. Amidst our daily routines which can become mundane and almost second-nature, we do not give the elderly a second thought. Many have no harmful intentions in acting in such a negligent way. Here we take a look at the other end of the age spectrum, the lives of our silver generation. To put it simply, their love and care for us is often not truly appreciated. We lack gratitude; when do we take a step back and think of the inevitable? We do not want to talk about it, neither do we dare imagine the outcomes when time takes its toll.

Ryan Siu Kar Yung and Jay Teo (20-O5)

How Priming Affects Consumer Behaviour

As modern consumers of the 21st century, we are often spoilt for choice with an endless variety of products from both physical stores and online shops, so much so that it has even created what is known as the ‘consumerist culture’. Burdened with a seemingly insatiable hunger for consumer goods, we are constantly on the hunt for the newest trends, choosing to buy the newest branded bags or drool over the latest phone models instead of saving or investing for the future. Although this culture is undoubtedly fueled by the trend-setting celebrities many of us idolise in today’s society, is that really the only reason why our material desires never seem to end? 

In 2012, Dunkin’ Doughnuts initiated an interesting marketing campaign where coffee scented fragrance would be released on buses while the Dunkin’ Doughnuts jingle played on the radio. During the few months when the experiment was carried out, there was an overall 29% increase in sales (Evergreen, 2012), but for what reason? Research suggests that  consumers’ behaviour was influenced by external stimuli to make purchasing decisions, disrupting the typical 6-step rational decision making process during this experiment (see in Annex). In other words, consumers felt more compelled to buy coffee from Dunkin’ Doughnuts after associating the coffee-scented fragrance on the buses with their own memories of drinking coffee. Sandeep Datta, M.D., Ph.D. and Assistant Professor at the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School states that there is an “incredibly direct connection” from the neurons that detect smells and the part of the brain that processes information and associates it with memory (Evergreen, 2012).This is known as priming – a psychological technique in which the introduction of visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli influences people’s response to subsequent stimuli (Barney, 2019). 

For example, take a look at this sentence:

On a warm summer day, there’s nothing I love more than going for a ride.

Now, fill in the blank. Which word first comes to mind?

B _ _ E

Most likely, you would have thought of the word ‘bike’, rather than ‘bake’ or ‘blue’. The words bike and ride are associated with each other, and the scenery described best suits that association than the ones you have with bake or blue.

This is a simple example of priming (Rawlings, 2019). Priming works by using associations made in our subconscious (Barney, 2019), and is often used by businesses in marketing strategies, as they aim to shape consumers’ purchasing decisions by catering for consumers’ inherent preferences. 

There are different types of priming, but the general idea is that the introduction and exposure to a particular event will trigger or activate some associated concepts in the person’s mind, hence subconsciously affecting their subsequent actions (Rozendal, 2018). These types of priming are: 

  1. Positive priming, which accounts for how exposure to an event can impact the speed of processing, memory retrieval and the likelihood of the person responding well to the same stimuli next time. In the case of positive priming, the presence of the initial stimuli helps enable certain associations or memory, such that when the second stimuli is introduced, less activation time is needed before taking action. For example, if we see the familiar yellow M of McDonalds’ logo when driving home or feeling lost in a new city, it stimulates images of McDonald’s trademark burgers or french fries in our brains. This may remind us of home, or make us crave the taste of fries. The association with good memories of Mcdonald’s food are likely to drive your decision to enter the drive-through (Rozendal, 2018), pun intended.
  1. Semantic priming is carried out through the introduction of a stimulus that triggers the memory of other objects that share similar characteristics or properties such as its shape or colour, allowing people to respond more quickly to subsequent stimuli of similar features.

    In 1999, researchers conducted a study on the influence of in-store music on wine selections to reveal the effects of music on decision-making in a grocery store. For two weeks, stereotypically French and German music were played on alternating days and the amount of French wine versus German wine sold was measured. The numbers told an interesting story as they indicated that more French wine was sold on days when French music was playing and more German wine was sold on the days when German music was playing. (North, A. C., Hargreaves, D. J., & McKendrick, J. 1999). This example of semantic priming through auditory stimulus showed how even something as subtle as playing a particular genre of music could alter people’s preferences and suggest to their subconscious to consume a good related to that preference.  
  2. Associative priming entails the use of two stimuli that are usually associated with each other. The related pair of words, objects or events will normally be linked together in memory. Hence, introducing one of them often will prime people to react more quickly when the other one is introduced. For example, Valentine’s Day is usually associated with the colour red which represents love, so businesses like bakeries or florists often sell red-themed cakes and red roses on Valentine’s Day to attract consumers’ attention to their products.
  3. Repetition priming takes place when the repeated use of a stimulus is used to evoke the same response consistently. Over time, the use of a particular stimulus can be used to trigger specific actions and behaviour as people’s minds are primed to anticipate this stimulus, and thus respond the same way immediately. You might experience this if you set an alarm to wake up for school at the same time every day. At the set time, the familiar sound of the alarm will ring, waking you up. Eventually, you would find yourself waking up naturally at the same time on weekends, even without setting the same alarm.

    Aside from that, as a consumer, one might experience repetition priming when the same ads keep appearing on your screens, or on posters wherever you might go. For example, regular sales promotions and song advertisements for online shopping sites such as Shopee might create anticipation and a growing trend of online purchases, as consumers are gradually primed to purchase more goods after continuous exposure to the enticing ads. 

Through these methods of priming, certain memories are more easily recalled when a particular stimulus is being activated, leading to a more rapid response or action. When applied to businesses and their marketing strategies, priming methods are helpful in steering consumers towards having certain reactions or decisions, so as to influence consumer decisions and thus increase sales revenue. 

Furthermore, because priming usually has a subconscious influence on consumer behaviour, there is a grey area or risk of consumers getting manipulated in their decision-making process. Thus, there is a need to consider to what extent priming should be used, and where the line should be drawn for firms (Ford, 2013).

Nevertheless, when used with a comprehensive understanding of the needs, desires, and motivations of consumers, priming can be used as a powerful marketing tool for profit maximisation and improving brand recognition (Woo, 2018).

Gerin Lim Wen Ting, Sarah Yeo Hui En, and Yeo Hui Min Mandy (20-E1)

Tan Yi Xuan (20-A1)


Architects, T. B. (n.d.). The power of priming part one .

Barney, J. (n.d.). Priming in Marketing: An Advertising Psychology Tactic. Einstein Marketer.

Cherry , K. (2020, February 21). Priming and the Psychology of Memory. verywellmind.,stimulus%20or%20task%20is%20introduced.

Evergreen, I. (2012, July 24). Dunkin’ Donuts Sprays the Smell of Coffee Onto Buses to Increase Sales [Video]. Bostinno.

Ford, M. (2013, July 1). What is Priming? A Psychological Look at Priming & Consumer Behavior.

Ganesh, S. (2019, September 23). Priming and the Science behind Onboarding.

Major Factors Influencing Consumer Behavior. Clootrack. (n.d.).

North, C., A., Hargreaves, J., D., & McKendrick, J. (n.d.). The influence of in-store music on wine selections.

Rawlings, R. (2019, July 12). A Guide on the Psychology of Priming. BetterMarketing.

Rozendal, E. (2018, April 19). Priming: an invisible power tool for online marketing., H. (2018, September 28). How Priming Influences Consumer Behaviour. customerthink.,used%20to%20influence%20consumers%27%20decisions.&text=When%20used%20correctly%2C%20i.e.%20with,sales%20growth%20and%20brand%20recognition.

Why Learn Chinese?

During my internship, I noticed a girl who was not proficient in the Chinese language but was incredibly attentive in the Secondary 3 class I was teaching. Whenever I taught Chinese composition writing, she would copy down all the model sentences incessantly. Afterwards, she would annotate every single new Chinese vocabulary in English. Teachers all love hardworking students, do they not? Just then, I felt that I should be ashamed of myself if I don’t manage to teach her well.

Yet, her answer to a survey questionnaire shocked me – she did not like the Chinese language at all. To her, it was useless. I went to her after class the next day, hoping to talk about her response. She was practising for tingxie (Chinese spelling) with her classmates then. Once again, she admitted that she disliked the language and felt that it was difficult. 

Nonetheless, she was indeed studious. She diligently practised writing the new Chinese characters that would be tested for spelling, again and again. She said that even if she had memorised the words by heart, she would still forget them shortly after the tingxie test. “Is Chinese really useful?” She asked me in all sincerity.

I was at a loss for words. The Chinese language is definitely of use if one wishes to connect with the Chinese-speaking world or work with China, a rising superpower, then the Chinese language will definitely be of use. There was a series of advertisements a few years back, in which Caucasian cast members could pronounce Chinese words more clearly than I can. At the end of the advertisements, the slogan “华文谁怕谁(I don’t fear you, Chinese!)” was flashed on the screen. These advertisements were, in fact, screened as part of the Speak Mandarin Campaign. How could one say that the Chinese language is impractical when even the Caucasians were speaking it now? But the word “fear” stood out too much to be ignored. Had I shown those advertisements to my students, I was afraid that this would have ended tragically.

Perhaps I should have reiterated that the Chinese ought to learn to speak Mandarin? I was reminded of another incident with another class, which I had gone to relief-teach. Their  learning attitudes then were atrocious. 

I asked one of the girls, “Don’t you want to properly grasp the Chinese language?”

She replied with a question, “Why should I? I’m not even Chinese.” It turned out that she was from another race, and I was left speechless. 

What exactly is the point of learning languages? What’s wrong with not learning your mother tongue? “Don’t you find it hard to study Chinese?” Another teacher intern asked  me. Even though she was born in China, she was raised in Singapore and had wholly embraced the Singaporean way of life. I could not have told her apart from any other Singaporeans.  “It is easier to form words in English. And even if there is a word you don’t understand, you can still somewhat spell it. But for Chinese, you have to get all the strokes correct in order to form a character. When picking up a language, isn’t it most important that words are easy to form? ”

“Easy”– a key word that is ever so closely linked to the concept of practicality.

Is the Chinese language challenging to pick up? According to the experiences of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, it is a language that requires hard work. The speech he made during his book launch had a lasting impression on me. 

He expressed, “It would be tough to survive in Singapore if one does not know how to speak English; it will be your lifelong regret if you do not know how to speak Mandarin. We should learn to speak Mandarin not because of the rise of China’s economy, but  to understand our  cultural roots.” One would have mistaken these stirring words as those that would have been spoken by Chinese education advocates. He might have indeed felt remorseful. However, Singapore’s education policies for the Chinese language currently focus mainly on the spoken tongue, not so much on reading and writing. While Chinese lessons are  undoubtedly much easier  now, are we able  we preserve our  cultural roots this way?

Then again, which is more important: to understand one’s cultural heritage, or to be more practical? 

The little girl told me, “What’s the problem? My friends and I  speak in English in school all the time.” She sounded almost identical to those“successful” figures who disdainfully brag, “I only speak English. Even so, I can still afford to live in a big house and drive a big car.” 

Ardent supporters of the English language policies would confidently claim, “Singapore would not have been able to reach where it is today if English had not been the main language.”

We can’t possibly turn back time. If Chinese were to be Singapore’s main language from the very start, what would Singapore be like now? For a start, Singlish– something that we now take much pride in– probably would not have existed.  Also, how would the different ethnic groups communicate with one another? Would our economy still prosper as it does now? The essentiality of English in modern Singapore  is not one to be arbitrarily questioned. It would be difficult for Mandarin Chinese to go head to head with the English language taking into consideration pragmatism and the assumption that one can only master one language.  it may even be accused of being an impediment that burdens Singapore and hinders her from moving forward. Is Chinese that important? My English-educated friends barely spoke Chinese in their lives. Yet, they are still doing well. It is not fair to assume that they are failing at life, is it?

If Mandarin is so unpopular and unwelcomed, even less needs to be said about dialects. Singapore’s Speak Mandarin Campaign has been implemented for 30 years and seemed to have  made remarkable results.  Youths in Singapore hardly know any dialects now. Has the sacrifice of dialects increased the Chinese proficiency of Singaporean youths? Definitely not. In fact, quite the opposite. I often have to use English to aid in my teaching, but I could never use Hokkien or Cantonese to explain certain words. What should I tell the students? Should I say that dialects are not our mother tongues? Or that dialects play no significance in preserving our cultural roots??

As a mere relief teacher, I stopped myself from elaborating further into ethnic pride or languages being the medium in preserving cultural identity.  Instead, I only explained the formation of the Chinese characters briefly, using the few words that I had tested them to write in the tingxie. No one will ever ask if a piece of art is “useful” when created, would they? Even if she has yet to recognise the beauty of Chinese characters, at least it would be less tedious for her to prepare for tingxie

   “That is actually quite interesting,” she said as I was about to leave. And those genuine words were enough to soothe my heart. 

Nevertheless, there are some things which I still cannot get over. If the purpose of studying is to find out more about the world, we should start by understanding ourselves better. It is always a shame when people wish to know more about themselves but do not know much about their own culture  or mother tongue. And what is even more of a pity is when any race completely loses grasp of languages that were once theirs, never knowing what they had lost.

Afterword: I wrote this article to pen down my thoughts in July 2012,  after a 4-week internship at a neighbourhood secondary school in Singapore.

Translated by Yew Rui En Rachel

游睿蒽 (20-A1)















所以那天我这小小的代课老师没和那学生说什么民族大义,也没谈语言如何承载文化,我只就她听写的那几个词讲了些汉字的造字法。就像画一幅画时不会问“这幅画有用吗?”一样那么纯粹。如果她还无法体会到文字的优美,至少听写也不必学得那么辛苦吧。临别时她诚恳地说:“That is actually quite interesting.”足慰我心矣。




(Eunoia Junior College MTL Department)  

我为何选择翻译本作品:我想翻译这篇文章的原因有几。第一, 我能够跟这篇文章产生共鸣。我认为现代青少年大多都没有意识到华文的重要性,所以他们才会以那么不认真的态度学习这门语言。第二,我觉得很多人都对学习华文有特别大的误解。比如:很多人都以为华文是个特别枯燥的科目,字不但有很多不同的笔画,词语还有无数个搭配方式,实在难以掌握。其实,换个角度来说,学习华文何尝不是件有趣的事。因此,我想通过翻译《为什么要学华文》,利用既朴实,又有趣的故事情节,将华文推广给更多青少年。

Half A Kennel

He would have been more dumbfounded, had he known that she made the decision because of half of a kennel.

He finally acceded to her request after three years. Yet, she cowered.

   She once firmly believed that she would never fall for a married man like him. Yet, firmly, too, she once believed that should she ever fall for a man, she would have loved him, bravely and unapologetically.

Her disposition was probably formed since young. She had always perceived herself to be a free and independent woman, and was strongly convinced by the notion that happiness was never for someone else to give. This conviction was probably why she never kept pets. She did have a liking for dogs. However, as she had later on realised the vast and inherent difference between the lifespans of humans and dogs, something dawned on her: wasting your emotions on something that could so easily pass on was simply worthless. She loved dogs as a child. Whenever she had passed by the pet shop with her Daddy, she was never able to take her eyes off those puppies. Just a few weeks before her birthday that year, her Daddy told her, “I’m going to give you the most, most special birthday present this year.” And that gift was the pure white chihuahua she had been eyeing for the longest time. 

“I will also build a beautiful kennel for the chihuahua,” her Daddy said.

Although she had no clue how the beautiful kennel would have looked, she was still so thrilled that on some nights, she would dream of the different shapes and constructions of the kennel. However, Daddy was not much of a carpenter. He took ages to build the kennel, and amidst the numerous heated arguments with Mommy, the kennel was never completed. 

She was reminded of these trivial matters when she saw a stray dog on the streets. At that time, she had finally decided to confront the man’s wife. They were living in the same city, and were sleeping beside the same man. And yet, despite seeming to be so near to each other, she had never seen the woman before. She had seen pictures of the woman, but she knew that these were useless in saying anything beyond the photos. This sitch was very much like how she could not say what breed the stray dog was despite the self-asserted dog knowledge of hers. The stray dog lumbered about the streets slowly. It looked lonely…so lonely, that it was compelling people to pat its head; that yet, at the same time, looked so dirty that people would subconsciously avoid the unkempt canine from afar. She avoided it, while imagining how the woman who opened the door would call her a bitch. It was as if she could see the anger and abhorrence in the woman’s eyes. Her feelings towards the stray dog then got even more perplexed.

She thought of that chihuahua she never owned. At times, when she looked at her family portraits taken when she was young, she would always regret not taking a picture of the chihuahua. When Mommy subsequently took her to walk past the pet shop, the chihuahua was no longer to be seen on the outside of the shop. Someone must have bought it, she thought. She had desperately wanted to cry at that moment, but with Mommy beside her, she held her tears back. She held on. And on. And on. And all of a sudden, she had already walked to the doorstep of his house.

Never had she considered that his wife was not home. It was their 8-year-old daughter who opened the door. She looked a lot like her father. Stunned, she widened her eyes with all her might. The girl was holding a pure white chihuahua in her arms.

Then, she was reminded of that one deeply buried in her heart, that one uncompleted and will forever remain as, that half of a kennel.

Translated by Chia Wan Ting Jolene

谢婉婷 (20-A1)












(Eunoia Junior College MTL Department)  

我为何选择翻译本作品:首先,这篇文章是由我们最亲爱的翻译老师–庄老师写的。因此,作为我对老师谆谆教导的答谢之礼,我希望我能学以致用,尽我所能地把老师所教的翻译知识展现在这篇译文上。除此之外,我本身也非常喜欢这篇文章。行文言简意赅,仅从一个女人的角度来诉说故事的经过,看似平淡无奇,却耐人寻味,我读后深有感触。所以,我很荣幸能有机会翻译此作品,也希望能通过这个’portfolio project’的平台与他人分享庄老师的作品。


Ibu, kamu

Tempat aku bergantung

Tempat aku bermanja

Tempat aku mengisahkan segala suka dan duka

Ayah, kamu

Tempat aku berlindung

Tempat aku berharap

Tempat aku mempelajari erti tanggungjawab

Adik, kamu

Tempat aku  bermain

Tempat aku berseloroh

Tempat aku memberi tunjuk ajar

Inilah keluargaku

Tempat penaung kasih dan sayang

Maisarah Hamdan (21-O2)