Beyond WEIRD Psychology: Measuring and Mapping Scales of Cultural and Psychological Distance

52 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2018 Last revised: 19 Jan 2020

See all articles by Michael Muthukrishna

Michael Muthukrishna

London School of Economics and Political Science

Adrian V Bell

University of Utah

Joseph Henrich

Harvard University; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Cameron M Curtin

Harvard University

Alexander Gedranovich

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Jason McInerney

Iowa State University

Braden Thue

Harvard University

Date Written: January 15, 2020

Abstract

We present a tool and method for measuring the psychological and cultural distance between societies and creating a distance scale with any population as the point of comparison. Since psychological data is dominated by samples drawn from WEIRD nations, and overwhelmingly, the United States, we focus on distance from the US. We also present distance from China, the largest population, second largest economy, and common cultural comparison. We apply the fixation index (F_ST), a meaningful statistic in evolutionary theory, to the World Values Survey of cultural beliefs and behaviors. As the extreme WEIRDness of the literature begins to dissolve, the tool will become more useful for designing, planning, and justifying a wide range of comparative psychological projects. Our code and accompanying online application allow for comparisons between any two countries. Analyses of regional diversity reveal the relative homogeneity of the United States. Cultural distance predicts various psychological outcomes.

Keywords: WEIRD people, cultural psychology, cultural distance, cross-cultural differences, replication crisis

Suggested Citation

Muthukrishna, Michael and Bell, Adrian and Henrich, Joseph and Curtin, Cameron and Gedranovich, Alexander and McInerney, Jason and Thue, Braden, Beyond WEIRD Psychology: Measuring and Mapping Scales of Cultural and Psychological Distance (January 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3259613 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3259613

Michael Muthukrishna (Contact Author)

London School of Economics and Political Science ( email )

Houghton Street, Social Psychology
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Adrian Bell

University of Utah ( email )

1645 E. Campus Center
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States

Joseph Henrich

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

Cameron Curtin

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alexander Gedranovich

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Jason McInerney

Iowa State University ( email )

613 Wallace Road
Ames, IA 50011-2063
United States

Braden Thue

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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