July 30, 2010

Do you mostly hang out with WEIRDos?

In their paper "The weirdest people in the world?", Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan argue that:
  1. The scientific literature in the field of experimental psychology consists primarily of reports of experiments upon subjects who were handy and willing – namely, college undergraduates, who are "Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD)".
  2. "...WEIRD subjects are particularly unusual compared with the rest of the species – frequent outliers ... [in] domains ... includ[ing] visual perception, fairness, cooperation, spatial reasoning, categorization and inferential induction, moral reasoning, reasoning styles, self-concepts and related motivations, and the heritability of IQ."
  3. "...we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity."

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