WEIRD (Western, education, industrialized, rich, democratic) people may indeed be weird

A new article in Brain and Behavioral Sciences makes a thought-provoking cross-cultural conclusion about WEIRD people:

The article, titled “The weirdest people in the world?”, appears in the current issue of the journal Brain and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Henrich and co-authors Steven Heine and Ara Norenzayan argue that life-long members of societies that are Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic ā€” people who are WEIRD ā€” see the world in ways that are alien from the rest of the human family. The UBC trio have come to the controversial conclusion that, say, the Machiguenga are not psychological outliers among humanity. We are…

WEIRD people, the UBC researchers argue, have unusual ideas of fairness, are more individualistic and less conformist than other people. In many of these respects, Americans are the most “extreme” Westerners, especially young ones. And educated Americans are even more extremely WEIRD than uneducated ones…

One of the consequences of this argument that is pointed out by the authors is that WEIRD people are then a bad population for studies and experiments because the results may not be generalizable.

I wonder how average Westerners and Americans in particular would react after reading this argument. Perhaps it might fit in with some of the ideas regarding “American exceptionalism” – though whether this is good or bad could be debated.
Regardless, if other researchers agree with these conclusions, it suggests that social science studies about humanity need to be expanded across the globe. The era of the undergraduate research subject might then be over.

0 thoughts on “WEIRD (Western, education, industrialized, rich, democratic) people may indeed be weird

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