It’s a pretty shocking fact, but pretty much everything we think we know about human behaviour derives from studies of US undergraduates – the psychologists’ ‘lab rat’! These people are WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) in more ways than one.
A paper from three psychologists at the University of British Columbia lays out in stark detail just how unusual the WEIRDs are, at least from a global perspective. First off, some stats to give you an idea of just how big the problem is. Of studies published in the top psychology journals:
96% of subjects come from Western industrialized countries, which have only 12% of the world’s population. And the USA alone accounts for 68% of all study subjects. 99% of the investigators live in these countries, and 73% live in the USA. 67% of the subjects in US studies, and a staggering 80% of studies in other countries, consist solely of psychology undergraduates!