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WEIRD Psychology: 7 Myopic Characteristics Of Western Research

Have you ever heard of the W.E.I.R.D. acronym before? It stands for Western, Education, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.

WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, non-conformist, and analytical. They also tend to focus more on themselves over their relationships and social roles.

The historical roots of the WEIRD culture have been brilliantly documented by Joseph Henrich in his “big history” book The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.

To better understand Weird Psychology, I highly recommend watching this short film from NeuroAnthropology.

This quote from the film really stuck with me:

“They found that people from Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD) societies — who represent as much as 80 percent of study participants, but only 12 percent of the world’s population — are not only unrepresentative of humans as a species, but on many measures they’re outliers.”

7 Myopic Characteristics Of Western Psychology Research:

By Western psychology research focusing mainly on the WEIRD demographic, its finding are not very representative of the wider diversity of humanity.

Here are the myopic characteristics of WEIRD psychology and culture, which make it different from most non-Western cultures:

1. Materialist: While most of the world’s cultures have elements of an animistic relationship with the natural world, to the Western mind this is considered infantile superstition.

2. Young: Many Western people live in a suspended state of adolescence that can stretch well into the thirties whereas in many other societies people have families at a much earlier age.

3. Self-obsessed: The Western mind is strangely narcissistic in its self-absorption and difficulty respecting other people’s traditions until they have been proven by Western scientific methods.

4. Please-seeking: The Western individual is hedonistic, pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain.

5. Isolated: Western minded people tended to be more isolated and spend more time in age-group cohorts.

6. Consumerist: Western identity is largely formed today through consumer identity.

7. Sedentary: Incredibly sedentary, most people in highly developed countries spend over 90% of their time indoors and most of that time sitting staring at screens.

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