Between 2003 and 2007, 96% of participants in social psychology studies were Westerners, most of them undergraduates at American universities. As a result, much of what psychologists have come to believe about human nature is actually a description of a geographically and historically specific group: people who are western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic ("WEIRD").
Joseph Henrich, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, has spent his career trying to change the parochial bias of social psychology. If we understand that WEIRD people are closer to the aberration than the norm, he argues, we can better understand the rise of the West, the rapid transformations now taking place from Asia to Africa, and the likely future of societies around the world.
In this week’s episode of The Good Fight, Yascha Mounk and Joseph Henrich sit down to discuss the peculiarities of WEIRD people; whether non-western societies are taking on some of the same characteristics as they develop economically; and how new technologies might disrupt traditional bonds between human beings.
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Podcast production by John T. Williams and Rebecca Rashid
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