Navigation Links
Psychological research conducted in WEIRD nations may not apply to global populations

A new University of British Columbia study says that an overreliance on research subjects from the U.S. and other Western nations can produce false claims about human psychology and behavior because their psychological tendencies are highly unusual compared to the global population.

According to the study, the majority of psychological research is conducted on subjects from Western nations, primarily university students. Between 2003 and 2007, 96 per cent of psychological samples came from countries with only 12 per cent of the world's populations. The U.S. alone provided nearly 70 per cent of these subjects.

However, the study finds significant psychological and behavioral differences between what the researchers call Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) societies and their non-WEIRD counterparts across a spectrum of key areas, including visual perception, fairness, spatial and moral reasoning, memory and conformity.

The findings, published in Nature tomorrow and Behavioral Sciences this week, raise questions about the practice of drawing universal claims about human psychology and behavior based on research samples from WEIRD societies.

"The foundations of human psychology and behavior have been built almost exclusively on research conducted on subjects from WEIRD societies," says UBC Psychology and Economics Prof. Joe Henrich, who led the study with UBC co-authors Prof. Steven Heine and Prof. Ara Norenzayan. "While students from Western nations are a convenient, low-cost data pool, our findings suggest that they are also among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans."

The study, which reviews the comparative database of research from across the behavioural sciences, finds that subjects from WEIRD societies are more individualistic, analytic, concerned with fairness, existentially anxious and less conforming and attentive to context compared to those from non-WEIRD societies.

According to the study, significant psychological and behavioral differences also exist between population groups within WEIRD nations. For example, U.S. undergraduate students are typically more analytic and choosy and less conforming than U.S. adults without college educations.

"Researchers often implicitly assume that there is little variation across human populations or that these 'standard subjects' are as representative of the species as any other population," says Henrich. "Our study shows there is substantial variability in experimental results across populations. In fact, there is enough evidence that researchers cannot in good faith continue to make species-generalizing claims about Homo sapiens in the absence of comparative evidence."

The research team calls on universities, peer reviewers, funding agencies and journal editors to push researchers to explicitly support any generalizations to the species with evidence or potent inductive arguments. Additionally, they envision the creation of research partnerships with non-WEIRD institutions to further and expand and diversify the empirical base of the behavioral sciences.


Contact: Basil Waugh
University of British Columbia

Related medicine news :

1. Five Organizations Receive APAs Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award, Ten Honored for Best Practices
2. New study reveals prevalence of cyberbullying and its psychological impact on nonheterosexual youth
3. Association for Psychological Science 22nd Annual Convention
4. Childhood psychological problems create long-term economic losses, study finds
5. Kids Psychological Problems Have Long-Term Effects
6. Psychological intervention provides enduring health benefits for women with breast cancer
7. New research identifies modifiable risk factors for heart disease
8. Nuvo Research announces early redemption of 5% convertible debentures
9. Researcher to track spread of disease, malware and power outages
10. UCSF Researchers Identify Regulator of Human Sperm Cells
11. Octapharma Accepting Applications for Research Grants Through March 31
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern ... Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He ... Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, ... at Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health ... annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... A recent article published June 14 on E ... goes on to state that individuals are now more comfortable seeking to undergo not ... as calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles area medical group, Beverly Hills Physicians ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is World ... with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center ... with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Pulmonary Hypertension ... that it will receive two significant new grants to support its work to ... its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and scientists for their work ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Research and Markets ... Issue 52" report to their offering. ... treatment creates a favourable commercial environment for MedImmune to enter. ... base that will serve to drive considerable growth for effective ... serve to cap sales considerably, but development is still in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 , , , WHEN: ... 2016 , , , , LOCATION: , , , Online, ... , , EXPERT PANELISTS:  , , , Frost & Sullivan,s Global ... Bird; Senior Industry Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar and Unmesh Lal, Program Manager ... pharmaceutical industry is witnessing an exceptional era. Several new demand spaces, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of Astellas Farma Colombia (AFC), a new affiliate with ... Latin America . ... ... ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: