The WEIRDest People In The World

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by Joseph Henrich

A daring, epic narrative of how psychology and culture co-evolved to produce the peculiar Western mentality that significantly influenced modern society.

You may be WEIRD if you were reared in a Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic society. If so, your psychological makeup is pretty odd.

Contrary to the majority of people who have ever lived and a large portion of the population today, WEIRD persons are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. They prioritize their own characteristics, successes, and goals over those of their connections and social positions. How did WEIRD populations develop such a unique psychological makeup? What part did these psychological disparities play in the industrial revolution and the recent globalisation of Europe?

In The WEIRDest People in the World, Joseph Henrich examines these issues and others using the most recent findings in anthropology, psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology. He sheds light on the beginnings and development of marriage, family, and religion, as well as the enormous effects these cultural shifts had on psychology. Henrich charts these changes across ancient history and late antiquity and finds that the Roman Catholic Church exerted significant pressure on the most fundamental institutions of kinship and marriage, which underwent significant transformation. These changes laid the groundwork for the modern world by giving rise to the WEIRD mentality that would coevolve with impersonal markets, occupational specialisation, and free competition.

The WEIRDest People in the World explores how culture, institutions, and psychology shape one another and explains what this means for both our most intimate sense of who we are as individuals and the significant social, political, and economic forces that shape human history. It is provocative and engaging in both its broad scope and its surprising details.

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— Joseph Henrich, The WEIRDest People In The World