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Ri Paper For Internal Circulation Only Raffles Institution 2012 Essay

Passage 1 1. What is the writer hoping to emphasise by italicising ‘does not’ and ‘cannot’ in line 6? [1] Lifted “Just because money does not buy happiness does not mean money cannot buy happiness,” says Elizabeth Dunn, a social psychologist and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. Paraphrased The author hopes to emphasise … (the contrast / difference between) what money often fails to do but actually has the potential to achieve. {MUST attempt to explain ‘does not’ and ‘cannot’. Merely saying that there is a difference/contrast is stating the obvious. E.g. ‘Does not’ is different from ‘cannot’. = 0m.} 1

2. Using your own words as far as possible, explain how we use money wrongly (line 8). [2] Lifted a. we tend to value GOODS over experiences, b. OURSELVES over others, Paraphrased a. People tend to think that commodities/things {must be tangible} are more important than experiences,

b. People value themselves over others/self-centred… OR spend on themselves rather than others,

c. THINGS over people.

c. People prefer spending on objects rather than people. d. [Inferred] We are spending on temporary pursuits and cravings that tend to disappear over time. {MUST capture the comparison (the reason it is wrong is because the preference is wrong). Need not follow the sequence in the answer scheme.} 3-4 points – 2 marks 1-2 points – 1 mark

d. … the spending that makes us happy, it turns out, is often spending where the money vanishes and leaves something INEFFABLE in its place.


For Internal Circulation Only 3. Using your own words as far as possible,
explain three reasons why experiences are ‘inherently more social’ (line 28) [3] Lifted As experiences are inherently more social – when we vacation or eat out or go to the movies it is usually with other people, …we are liable also to RELIVE the experience when we see those people again. And past experiences can work as a sort of social adhesive even with people who did not PARTICIPATE with us, providing stories and conversational fodder in a way that a new watch or speedboat rarely can.

In addition, …experiences do not usually trigger the same sort of PERNICIOUS comparisons that material possessions do… (lines 2835) Paraphrased a. [Inferred] Experiences naturally involve interaction with people and 1

b. We are likely to recall / revisit / reminisce / recollect the experience when we meet those people again. c. People can also bond with people who were not present / strangers / others (through the sharing of anecdotes/conversational material).



d. Experiences do not cause hurtful comparisons… OR experiences do not make people envious/jealous/ [inferred] insecure.


{MUST capture negative connotation.}
1m per point for any 3 of the above points. Maximum 3m.

4. Why does the writer use ‘seeming’ in the phrase ‘even for seeming essentials like cars, houses and, clothes’ (line 41)? Use your own words as far as possible. [1] Lifted Paraphrased Much of the impetus for a. Such needs are (could be) perceived to be crucial for discretionary spending everyday life even though they are not. OR… even for seeming essentials like cars, b. Suggests that the author has doubts about whether houses, and clothes… these objects are crucial. OR… OR We might MISTAKE that c.

The writer feels that it is wrong to associate happiness with material/luxury goods. motivation for happiness, or for having a better life, but it is driven by something else, a human {Answer MUST include the idea of doubt and the need to compete or to fit explanation. in. Denied: sarcasm, cynicism, mockery Accepted: sceptical/scepticism (on its own), sceptical about this.} 1


For Internal Circulation Only 5. Explain what the writer means by ‘Talking about money and happiness in the same breath, it turns out, is not necessarily a surrender to crass materialism.’ (lines 47-48) [2] Lifted Talking about money and happiness in the SAME BREATH, it turns out, is not necessarily a SURRENDER to CRASS materialism… Paraphrased a. Connecting / Linking money and happiness… OR Talking about / discussing money and happiness together… b. is in reality not always giving in to… OR a submission to… OR being a victim of… c. a vulgar desire for material goods. OR excessive/shallow desire for luxury goods. 3 points – 2 marks 1-2 points – 1 mark.

Passage 2 6. “If you are a single male driving around in the Ferrari with nobody next to you, it is a glaring omission.” (lines 14-15) a) Why does the writer refer to the Ferrari in line 15? [1] Pt Lift (not possible) Other trophies simply do not bring the payoff one expects. Says Loewenstein, “If you are a single male driving around in the Ferrari with nobody next to you, it is a glaring omission.” Inference a. A Ferrari is an example of a ‘trophy’. b. A Ferrari is a well-known example of a highly desired product. c. A Ferrari signifies high status / wealth in society. {Any of the above will be accepted.}



For Internal Circulation Only b) What does ‘glaring omission’ (line 15) imply here? Pt Lift (not possible) Other trophies simply do not bring the
payoff one expects. Says Loewenstein, “If you are a single male driving around in the Ferrari with nobody next to you, it is a glaring omission.” [2]

Inference [Inferred from ‘glaring’] a. It is strongly believed/popularly accepted that/very obvious {‘Emphasise’ and ‘highlight’ are not accepted because the question is not asking for the writer’s intention.} [Inferred from ‘omission’, reinforcing stereotypes.] b. that driving a Ferrari/luxury sports car will attract women / ladies / females / companions / partners. {Direct paraphrase of the quote is not acceptable.}



7. ‘A life that was constantly happy was not a good life’ (lines 30-31). Explain why this is a paradox. [2] Pt Lift “Part of the meaning of life is to have highs and lows. A life that was constantly happy was not a good life.” Inference [Must capture the clash.] a. We aim/wish/expect for maximum/optimum happiness in our lives all the time AND any of the following [Must capture what ‘good life’ entails.] b. Yet, a good life is one that has ups and downs, not just ups OR c. Yet, a good life is one with adequate/comparable negative experiences, not just positive experiences OR d. Yet, it is not just happiness that is ‘good’ but the ‘bad’ (of lows) is also seen to be ‘good’ {The key idea here is to question the value of ‘constant’ as a ‘good’ thing.} Answers will get either 2 marks or 0 mark.




For Internal Circulation Only
8. Summary Using material from paragraphs 2 to 5, summarise what Matthew Herper has to say about why wealth does not bring a constant sense of joy,
why happiness is overrated, and the relationship between money and happiness. Wealth does not bring a constant sense of joy as…

Pt a.

Lift Re-phrase “Part of the reason is that people are not people do not know how to use their money very good at FIGURING out what to do to get happiness with the money,” (lines 6-7) OR {Main idea of a lack of knowledge people are incompetent when it comes to understanding how to use money about how to manage money.} People generally OVERESTIMATE (line they have unrealistic expectations of the 8) {Students must capture the idea that it is off the mark.} the amount of long-term PLEASURE they will get from a given object. (lines 89) The way people spend money can make them less happy. (lines 9-10) Other trophies simply do not bring the (line 14)



d. e.

(Enduring) joy / happiness / positive outcomes that they can derive from something/object. The way people spend money can make them less happy. Other possessions also may not deliver

f. g.

{Do not accept ‘prizes’ / ’plaques’ / ’rewards’} PAYOFF one expects. (line 14) the rewards / utility / happiness we hope / wish to have. The central problem is that the human Next, our brain is accustomed to brain becomes CONDITIONED to pleasant/happy/joyful experiences as positive experiences. (lines 15-16) OR You can get used to anything, be it hanging by your toenails or making millions of dollars a day. (lines 19-20) Getting a chunk of unexpected money registers as a good thing, but as time passes, the response WEARS off. (lines 16-18) Mood may be set more by heredity… (line 20)


with time, their effect on us weakens/dies off/subsides.


Lastly, our happiness level may depend on our genes


For Internal Circulation Only j. k. than by anything else… (line 20) But this raises another question. How IMPORTANT is happiness anyway? (line 23) People with chronic illnesses describe themselves as happy, but they would still pay large sums for better health. And although healthy individuals are not much happier than quadriplegics, they would pay large sums of money to keep the use of their limbs. (lines 23-26) Some of life’s most SATISFYING experiences (line 26) do not bring happiness. (line 27) “Part of the meaning of life is to have highs (line 30) and lows…” (line 30)

A life that was CONSTANTLY happy (line 30) was not a GOOD life.” (lines 30-31) more than other factors. OR predominantly / mostly [Inferred] However, the significance / necessity / crucial nature of happiness is still in doubt. [Inferred] Even supposedly happy people find happiness insufficient [Inferred] as they are willing to pay to ensure certain privileges… OR health.



n. o. p. q. r. s.

Besides, some of the most gratifying/rewarding experiences do not make us happy. A meaningful life should also have its joyous and sad moments. A life that is always / perpetually happy is not fulfilling.



{Do not award for point s in the absence of point r.} However, there may be at least one Yet, there remains a significant link IMPORTANT relationship between between money and happiness in that money and happiness… (lines 31-32) … happy people tend to have higher happy people earn more. incomes later on in their lives. (lines 3334) OR

So, while money may not help make people happy, being happy may help them make money. (lines 34-35) Total: 21 points, 11 words that cannot be lifted Points ≥ 14 12 – 13 10 – 11 8–9 7 5–6 3–4 1–2 Marks 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


For Internal Circulation Only

Wealth does not bring a constant sense of joy as… people do not know how to use their money {a} and have unrealistic expectations {b} of the enduring joy that they can derive from something {c}. Other prized possessions {e} also may not deliver the rewards we wish to have {f}. Next, our brain is trained to be accustomed to pleasant experiences {g} as with time, their effect on us subsides {h}. However, the significance of happiness is still in doubt {k}. Even supposedly happy people find happiness insufficient {l} and are willing to pay to ensure their health {m}. Besides, some of the most gratifying experiences {n} do not make us happy {o}. A life that is always happy {r} is also not fulfilling {s}.

Yet, there remains a significant link {t} between money and happiness – happy people earn more {u}. (16 points, 116 words) Vocabulary: 9. Give the meaning of the following words as they are used in the passage. You may write your answer in one word or a short phrase. Passage 1 Futility (line 3) noun Philosophers and gurus, holy books and self-help manuals have all warned of the futility of equating material gain with true well-being Answer should capture:

 Does not achieve purpose OR lacks meaning  Negative connotation Intriguing (line 8) adj The intriguing explanation for the poor wealth-to-happiness exchange rate is that the problem is not money, it is us. Answer should capture:  Arousing intense curiosity OR very interesting  Intensity 1 mark  Hopelessness  Uselessness  Lack of purpose or meaning  Efforts are in vain Accepted  Ineffectiveness  Meaningless  Pointlessness 0 marks  Wastage  Worthless venture  Failure  Improbable  Inability  Foolishness

    

Ability to arouse intense curiosity Fascinating Deeply/very interesting Appeal strongly To captivate Very interesting and unexpected Very interesting and surprising

   

Capture interest Arouse curiosity Extremely interesting Thoughtprovoking

     

Interesting {indication of intensity is not very apparent} Exciting Puzzling Ignorance Surprising Curious Intellectually stimulating


For Internal Circulation Only impetus (line 40) noun Much of the impetus for discretionary spending – even for seeming essentials like cars, houses, and clothes – comes from a desire to send certain signals about our buying power and our tastes. Answer should capture:  The idea of a push or drive.

Quell (line 45) verb And $5,000 worth of new stuff, or even $500,000 worth, is unlikely to permanently quell that need. Answer should capture:  Suppressing. 1 mark  (Sustained) drive  Push  Motivation  A moving force  Impulse  Stimulus  Boost Accepted  Catalyst  Thrust  Spur  Spark  Trigger  Incentive 0 marks  Impulsive  Penchant  Impetuous  Attack  Assail  Reason

 

Subdue Suppress

       

Quiet Satiate / Quench Satisfy Appease Fulfil (incidental / part / whole) Allay Pacify Assuage

         

Vanquish / Defeat {wrong context} Stop / Halt / Cease Remove Overthrow / Overcome Repress Oppress Extinguish Destroy / Annihilate Kill Dispel Diminish Literally Figuratively Approximately {the idea of estimation, not accepted} Ostensibly Actually Effectually Basically

Passage 2 Virtually (line 1) adverb Surveys have found virtually the same level of happiness between the very rich individuals on the Forbes 400 and the Maasai herdsmen of East Africa. Answer should capture:  For the most part.

      

Nearly; Practically; Almost completely Almost wholly Almost entirely For the most part Just about

  

Almost Effectively Essentially

  

   


For Internal Circulation Only 10. Application Question: Drake Bennett talks about how pro-social spending can lead to happiness while Matthew Herper argues that money does not lead to happiness. Which writer’s views do you find more persuasive? Discuss the relevance of the arguments presented in both passages to you and your own society. [8]   Answers that refer to only material from one passage would not be awarded more than 3 marks Explanation/evaluation should not just be a paraphrase of authors’ opinions

Possible points From Passage 1 Bennett 1 Extract For deep-seated psychological reasons, when it comes to spending money, we tend to value goods over experiences, ourselves over others, things over people. (lines 9-11) Possible explanations & S’pore context Relevant : In a society that is economically driven more than anything else, this is not a surprise. This drive, whether marked by early economic migration, post-war rebuilding, separation from Malaysia or simply Government push, remains sustained, if not stronger. Material success is celebrated and sheer narcissistic consumption is validated by commercial as well as social media.

Examples : 2011 SMU study – S’porean women are significantly more materialistic than their American counterparts. Relevance of 5 ‘C’ [cash, credit card, car, condo, country club] notations despite more than a decade of use Not so relevant: There is a rising trend of S’poreans spending on people rather than objects; in 2007, Finance Minister Tharman had indicated clear tax concessions for charity spending and to focus Singapore as a ‘philanthropy hub’. More people, not just the rich, are donating generous sums to their alumni schools, religious charities and other organizations catering to specific demographics such as the elderly, physically disabled, terminally ill etc.

There is also increase in charity through CSR, whether by global MNCs or S’pore GLCs. Of course, the real intention behind the generosity is debatable but as corporations form a substantial percentage in a small workforce, the evidence is mathematically there that ‘we, the management/employees of company X, Y, Z… are altruistic and caring’. There is a rising trend of social entrepreneurs opening restaurants to help the less fortunate and former prisoners.


For Internal Circulation Only 2 … higher “prosocial spending” – gifts for others and donations to charity – was indeed correlated with higher selfreported happiness. (lines 18-20) Relevant : well-known philanthropists such as popiah king Sam Goi, Elim Chew of 77th Street, remisier Peter Lim, Chinese Chamber of Commerce ex-president Chua Thian Poh, Mustaq Ahmad of Mustafa Centre etc have gone on record to say so on newspaper interviews. Hong Kong billionaire loves to donate to Singapore, especially for education charity, for the same purported reason.

The education system also introduces students to prosocial spending. The persistence of students in doing charitable acts also suggests happiness and satisfaction obtained. Not so relevant: This is not a technical disagreement. While the actual amount on ‘pro-social spending’ could be higher, it is usually by a small group of uber-rich AND older persons. The majority of Singaporeans, especially youth, have gone on record in many academic surveys that high levels of nuanced selfish material consumption is more rewarding than engaging in others’ welfare.

The intense hours and anxiety spent on studying/work necessarily need to see material purchases as a direct reward. Perhaps this material reward can THEN lead to social happiness by the envy/admiration they evoke – e.g. for a Prada handbag, for the possession of a prized virtual weapon for a Diablo 3 PC online game character. This could be an unintended consequence of a meritocratic society. Most parents would also largely spend on their children and obtain great satisfaction. 3 money spent on experiences – vacations or theatre tickets or meals out – makes you happier than money spent on material goods. (lines 21-23) Relevant:

Points to support this will be relatively difficult based on available Singapore studies. Typically, Singaporeans vacationing will covet purchases from overseas; theatre ticket purchases locally may indicate a need to belong to a certain materially privileged crowd rather than the sheer love of the arts. Nevertheless, any qualified evidence is welcome to support agreement however the difficulty is in establishing the level of happiness obtained. Not so relevant: Typical youth population notes that playing World Of Warcraft or getting a new iPhone 4S is far more meaningful; middle-aged men and their toy figure collections; ladies of all ages on record saying that splurging on themselves, expensive cosmetic treatment more rewarding than anything else – refer to any Friday URBAN section of The Straits Times.

As mentioned in earlier point, first the money has to be spent on material goods and THEN the experience related or shared can increase your happiness as a corollary. 4 As experiences are inherently more social … we are liable also to relive the experience Relevant : the rise of alumni associations locally, aided by social media, have greatly increased networking; heritage and memorabilia gatherings are on the rise with


For Internal Circulation Only when we see those people again. And past experiences can work as a sort of social adhesive even with people who did not participate with us, providing stories and conversational fodder in a way that a new watch or speedboat rarely can 5 (lines 28-32)

Talking about money and happiness in the same breath, it turns out, is not necessarily a surrender to crass materialism – it can also be a route to a new and more humane way to think about vitally important things like consumption, satisfaction, investment, and value. (lines 47-50) rich persons being key drivers behind these projects. Various hobby groups would also be relevant such as cycling clubs, dragon boating groups or cosplay groups. Not so relevant: There are hobby groups based on material goods such as car clubs or clubs for owners of toys. Material goods can also generate a sense of nostalgia.

Relevant: SMU Board chairman Ho Kwon Ping and wife Claire Chiang regularly promote pro-social spending and business; they are seen as new-age positive materialists and intellectuals. Christina Ong, boss of homegrown Club 21, is known for widespread charity outreach and growing her business, with equal pleasure. Not so relevant: For the majority of Singaporeans who lack such education or reflective practices, blatant monetary and property acquisition is the norm and only leads to a vicious cycle of debt, miscalculated risk-taking in investment etc

From Passage 2 1 Extract People generally overestimate the amount of long-term pleasure they will get from a given object. Sometimes, Loewenstein notes, the way people spend their money can actually make them less happy. (lines 8-10) Possible explanations & S’pore context Relevant: Just the consumer electronics industry here can attest to this; spending on upgrading of Apple smartphones from 3Gs to 4 to 4S; disposing of existing LCD for widescreen and 3D monitors, graphics cards in favour of new ones even though all are fully functional; rising number of secondhand computer parts shops is evidence of increasing technology shopping, which ultimately leaves one unhappy and insecure in the face of inability to keep up with the latest.

While the tech spending may supposedly be mostly for males, the females display this ‘overestimation of long-term pleasure’ in copious fashion couture purchases and cosmetics.

The increase in level of credit card debt is also an indication of less happiness as a result of overspending. Not to relevant: A basic level of income is necessary in Singapore to live a comfortable life. With a median household income of S$6000, anyone earning less would be hard pressed to live comfortably. In wired Singapore, having electronic goods is a necessity and can help attain more happiness in terms of education and interacting with peers. 2 The central problem is that the human brain becomes Relevant: Just looking at government financial decisions which affect the majority of the population – after a while,


For Internal Circulation Only conditioned to positive experiences. Getting a chunk of unexpected money registers as a good thing, but as time passes, the response wears off. An expected paycheck does not bring any buzz at all – and does not contribute to overall happiness. (lines 15-19) Not so relevant: Since the Singapore population composition keeps changing with addition of foreigners, for the majority of the new citizens, this buzz is sustained. As Singaporeans also travel more, they might be more aware of societies which are not as fortunate as Singapore.

Relevant: raising a family is universally seen as rewarding; the Government keeps promoting childbearing YET almost the first twenty years of a local child causes much stress for parents – working mothers post-maternity leave and the perennial maid/mother/mother-in-law management; young couples griping about childcare and choice primary schools; until the child is in a choice pri school and moving on to a premier sec sch, the parents put themselves under great duress. There is growing feeling that work-life balance is impossible and people are focusing more on their careers.

Not so relevant: Hard to convince for majority local context but there is evidence that a positive change in attitudes to raising children is present, thanks to religious organizations, pro-family policies, national movements e.g. DadsForLife!. There are people who are giving up their careers for the sake of their children. There is also a push for women to return to the workforce after raising their children initially. 4 … happy people tend to have higher incomes later on in their lives. So, while money may not help make people happy, being happy may help them make money. (lines 33-35) Relevant:

There are professional who have given up their careers to take up their passions such as opening restaurants and bakeries, and they are doing well. There is an increasing number of entrepreneurs who pursue their passions. The main issue here is that happiness is independent of money and they do not have any links. Not so relevant In 2012, S’pore ranks high in benchmarks of physical comforts – healthiest country in the world, richest country in the world BUT ranks 90th in Happiness Index.

Almost the entire local labour force can be on record for having technically higher incomes through their lives but the cost of living never lets up. Singaporeans are not happy or not happy enough but they keep making money anyway. the public becomes numb to the government’s welltimed monetary handouts and utility bill/town council fee reductions; the public expects more consultative engagement for sustained happiness. Recent feedback from the public seems to suggest that people overlook what is good in Singapore and focus on only the negative in terms of healthcare, transportation, housing, and standards of living. Possible reasons could be a lack of sufficient information about life in other societies and countries.


Some of life’s most satisfying experiences do not bring happiness. For instance, having children actually makes people less happy over the short term (lines 26-28)


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