How WEIRD Are You?

Think of three statements that begin with the words: “I am …”

Remember your answers – we’ll come back to them in a moment.

The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt introduced me to the concept of WEIRDness, where WEIRD is an acronym of Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re pretty WEIRD.

In Haidt’s book, he shows that WEIRD people are in fact, well – weird. They are different to most of the human race. As Haidt says, “the WEIRDer you are, the more you see a world full of separate objects, rather than relationships.”

Going back to the “I am …” question. It’s likely your answers were to do with yourself – happy, hungry, not looking forward to work tomorrow, and so on. In contrast, East Asians are more likely to list their roles and relationships – a son, a mother, an employee of XYZ, etc.

Our WEIRDness is worth remembering when we see things or hear ideas from other cultures. We can remind ourselves that not everyone views the world the same way we do.

And when we are with other WEIRDos, perhaps we can try and get away from the idea of separateness?

I am … a trustworthy friend.

I am … a reliable member of my football team.

I am … a responsible member of my community.

There is a growing trend towards polarisation. Perhaps understanding – and acknowledging – our WEIRDness can help bridge some of those gaps?


Weekly [digital] email to help navigate the [analogue] world …

Weekly [digital] email to help navigate the [analogue] world …