We Aren’t The World


(Pacific Standard)

Joe Henrich and his colleagues are shaking the foundations of psychology and economics— and hoping to change the way social scientists think about human behavior and culture . . .

In the end they titled their paper “The Weirdest People in the World?” By “weird” they meant both unusual and Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. It is not just our Western habits and cultural preferences that are different from the rest of the world, it appears. The very way we think about ourselves and others—and even the way we perceive reality—makes us distinct from other humans on the planet, not to mention from the vast majority of our ancestors. Among Westerners, the data showed that Americans were often the most unusual, leading the researchers to conclude that “American participants are exceptional even within the unusual population of Westerners—outliers among outliers.”