How Normal are the People Who Participate in Experiments?

For those of you who have heard Lorimer’s ‘How normal are the people who participate in experiments?’ talk, here’s a write-up on an article currently in press in the journal of Behavioral and Brain SciencesThe weirdest people in the world’.

How Normal is Weird?

It’s a pretty shocking fact, but pretty much everything we think we know about human behaviour derives from studies of US undergraduates – the psychologists’ ‘lab rat’! These people are WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) in more ways than one.

A paper from three psychologists at the University of British Columbia lays out in stark detail just how unusual the WEIRDs are, at least from a global perspective. First off, some stats to give you an idea of just how big the problem is. Of studies published in the top psychology journals:

  • 96% of subjects come from Western industrialized countries, which have only 12% of the world’s population. And the USA alone accounts for 68% of all study subjects.
  • 99% of the investigators live in these countries, and 73% live in the USA.
  • 67% of the subjects in US studies, and a staggering 80% of studies in other countries, consist solely of psychology undergraduates!

For the full blog post go to Epiphenom ‘How Normal is Weird’

Original Article: Henrich J, Heine SJ, and Norenzayan A (in press). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

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