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Thursday, May 10, 2018

The WEIRD Science of Culture, Values, and Behavior

Kim Armstrong
Psychological Science
Originally posted April 2018

Here is an excerpt:

While the dominant norms of a society may shape our behavior, children first experience the influence of those cultural values through the attitudes and beliefs of their parents, which can significantly impact their psychological development, said Heidi Keller, a professor of psychology at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany.

Until recently, research within the field of psychology focused mainly on WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) populations, Keller said, limiting the understanding of the influence of culture on childhood development.

“The WEIRD group represents maximally 5% of the world’s population, but probably more than 90% of the researchers and scientists producing the knowledge that is represented in our textbooks work with participants from that particular context,” Keller explained.

Keller and colleagues’ research on the ecocultural model of development, which accounts for the interaction of socioeconomic and cultural factors throughout a child’s upbringing, explores this gap in the research by comparing the caretaking styles of rural and urban families throughout India, Cameroon, and Germany. The experiences of these groups can differ significantly from the WEIRD context, Keller notes, with rural farmers — who make up 30% to 40% of the world’s population — tending to live in extended family households while having more children at a younger age after an average of just 7 years of education.

The information is here.