Biased Psychology of the WEIRD

WEIRD is an acronym that stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. It has been coined by Henrich/Heine/Norenzayan and caught some broader public attention by reflections in Science and Nature. The doubtlessly intended dual meaning of the term is to emphasize bias in psychological studies conducted on psychology students. The authors maintain that most of the people throughout the world don’t behave like psychology students. That’s probably true, but there is an other bias we are not yet aware of. Most people don’t behave like psychology professors either. That is, the problems chosen by the psychologists are not so much the problems our society has to cope with but rather problems psychologists feel important to their own lives. And not surprising then that the results are sometime adapted to the researches own wishful thinking.
Lets give some examples:

  1. The Dunning–Kruger effect that maintains that incompetent people are unable to realize their incompetence. I believe this is true as it can be deduced from Faueir Theory too, but I criticize the conclusion that these people are “rating their own ability as above average, much higher than it actually is”, as this is a typical WEIRD reaction. I lived in societies in which it was the other way around where people used to rate themselves below average. Walde describes such a community in Central Europe
  2. An other example psychological competence is determined by the psychologists’ mind is Hauser. What’s going wrong with his research can only be guessed. (I hope his data are not guesswork too.) But for sure, in his instance the friction between psychological research and social convictions became obvious.

By contrast to physics, for instance, psychology is still a quite subjective science. This might change substantially if Fauceir Theory will be accepted. Then in psychology as in physics problems can be addressed objectively and solved by mathematical models.


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