The Origins of WEIRD Psychology

174 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2018

See all articles by Jonathan Schulz

Jonathan Schulz

Harvard University

Duman Bahrami-Rad

Harvard University

Jonathan Beauchamp

University of Toronto

Joseph Henrich

Harvard University; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Date Written: June 22, 2018

Abstract

Recent research not only confirms the existence of substantial psychological variation around the globe but also highlights the peculiarity of populations that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD). We propose that much of this variation arose as people psychologically adapted to differing kin-based institutions — the set of social norms governing descent, marriage, residence and related domains. We further propose that part of the variation in these institutions arose historically from the Catholic Church’s marriage and family policies, which contributed to the dissolution of Europe’s traditional kin-based institutions, leading eventually to the predominance of nuclear families and impersonal institutions. By combining data on 20 psychological outcomes with historical measures of both kinship and Church exposure, we find support for these ideas in a comprehensive array of analyses across countries, among European regions and between individuals with different cultural backgrounds.

Keywords: kin-based institutions, cousin marriage, individualism, cross-cultural psychology, church marriage prohibitions

JEL Classification: N91, N30, D03, Z10, Z12, Z13

Suggested Citation

Schulz, Jonathan and Bahrami-Rad, Duman and Beauchamp, Jonathan and Henrich, Joseph, The Origins of WEIRD Psychology (June 22, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3201031 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3201031

Jonathan Schulz

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Duman Bahrami-Rad

Harvard University ( email )

11 Divinity Avenue
Culture, Cognition, and Coevolution Lab
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(617) 384-8641 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://scholar.harvard.edu/dumanbahramirad

Jonathan Beauchamp

University of Toronto ( email )

150 St-George St
Toronto, Ontario M5S3G7
Canada

Joseph Henrich (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) ( email )

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

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