The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous
A bold, epic account of how the co-evolution of psychology and culture created the peculiar Western mind that has profoundly shaped the modern world.
Perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. If so, you’re rather psychologically peculiar.
Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have ever lived,...more
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The Weirdest People in the World by Joseph Henrich is such a book.
“Weird” is a double-entendre. It is, on the one hand, an acronym for Western, Educated, ...more
I put this book on my list after Henrich's appearance on Michael Shermer's Science Salon podcast, which I enjoyed.
Joseph Henrich :
The WEIRDest People in the World is a very in-depth dive into social psychology that expands upon its subtitle. It is a very long book: the versions I have clocked in ...more
This book is another entry in that pile and to my mind makes an interesting and unique contribution.
In his 2015 book, "The Secret of Our Success", Henrich argued that the key quality that makes humans different from other animals is our biological ability and inclination to IMITATE each other. This CULTURAL evolution allows us to change much more rapi ...more
A great example is marrying a cousin: it was typically encouraged in the past, but it's considered legall ...more
- a review of the literature on cross-cultural psychological differences
- a review of the anthropological research on how cultural norms evolve and how they interact with people's psychology
- the author's theory of how WEIRD societies end ...more
I looked the Atlas up on the web and could find no way to sort the societies by population size, but I would venture to guess that many were a few thousand souls or less. In other words, an ethnolinguistic group of a thousand m ...more
I have followed Henrich for a long time - read all his books and most of his scientific articles - I see his work as a continuation of the older guys Pete Richerson and Rob Boyd. Their paper "Punishment allows the evolution of cooperation (or anything else) in sizable groups" made the idea of n ...more
The Church prohibited marriage to blood relatives, including distant relatives up to sixth cousins. This led to a more fluid society where people had to look farther for spouses. The Church also encouraged neolocal residence post marriages. Neolocal residences m ...more
In the years since then, I've drifted to paying much more attention to social psychology, and I'm a believer in Jonathan Haidt's assertion that humans are o ...more
1) There are significant patterns of psychological difference between W.E.I.R.D. societies and pretty much all other human societies/cultures. These differences are crucial for understanding why WEIRD societies are the way they are, but have mostly been ignored by academic psychology and economics, which have formulated their theories as if all of humanity conforms to WEIRD psychology.
2) The Catholic church prohibiting cousin marriage and other intra- ...more
1. Its premise is that the psychological differences found by those living in western culture were caused by the Catholic church's marriage and family program dating back to early middle ages. This was an interesting ...more
“Instead of ignoring psychological variation, policy analysts beed to consider both how to tailor their efforts to particular populations and how new policies might alter people’s psychology in the long run.”
This is good reading for any Westerner who needs reminding how abnormal or WEIRD they are, how unique the historical circumstances in the west were to influence the cultural envolution of humanity to where the west is today. I myself found it an interesting read in regard t ...more
At the same time, I think Henrich could have really benefited by another round of editing. As it stands, half the book is text and half are footnotes, some purely bibliographic, but many giving a ...more
Too long though. Could be 50% the length, imo.
As I read it by Nguyen
I strongly suspect WEIRD to be a mischievous pun.
Since Industrialized would rather apply to a country or a nation and Democratic to a political system or institution rather than to a person, and Educated can be safely implied when someone is “Western” and “Rich”, WEIRD actually amounts to Western and Wealthy or WW.
Joseph Henrich's research focuses on evolutionary approaches to psychology, decision-making and culture, and includes topics related to cultural learning, cultural evolution, culture-gene coevolution, human sociality, prestige, leadership, lar ...more