Psychology’s Bias – WEIRD


A new meta-analysis ‘The weirdest people in the world?’ published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences done by Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan, a group of scientists from the University of British Columbia shows a large majority of subjects for psychology experiments have been U.S. undergraduates, a population from which one should be wary of making generalized conclusions. “They cite evidence that between 2003 and 2007 undergrads made up 80 percent of study subjects in six top psychology journals, and that 96 percent of all psychology samples come from countries that make up only 12 percent of the world’s population. They call this the WEIRD societies—Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic—and say that they are the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans.” Interestingly, one of the authors of the blog with linked below questions, “We agree it’s WEIRD, but is it WEIRD enough?” It might just be their enthnocentric perspective.

Keeping this fact in mind, many new theories and branches within psychology have emerged to keep this bias under control and balance it by offering alternative views and knowledge to explain various psychological phenomenon. One of the co-authors of this article happened to be a psychologist whom I met last year in Kathmandu when he was here to enjoy trekking on his sabbatical leave.

I was wondering as I read that article, “Why are mainstream psychologists so tempted by absolutist orientation?”

Related posts:

Scientific American

Neuroanthropology

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