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Are You WEIRD?

Who are WEIRD? And, why should we know about these WEIRD people?

WEIRD actually refers to individuals from primarily…

  • Western
  • Educated
  • Industrialized
  • Rich
  • Democratic

…countries who are often used by social scientists as research subjects. WEIRDs are convenient participants for social science researcher and WEIRDs tend to be college students.

What is particularly weird about WEIRDs is that they represent only 12% of the world population and vary from the remaining 88% of the world  on ideas of…

  • fairness
  • decision making
  • moral reasoning
  • optical illusions

..all things impacted by social context.

Traditional helping excels with mainstream American individuals. And, this is not surprising given most helping research is conducted by and on WEIRDs.Essentially, traditional helping is the study of middle class mainstream America and it has high validity (truth) and reliability (repeatable findings) for the middle class in America. So, you can rest assure that if you are part of mainstream America, you will find much help and support from traditional helping professions.

But, what happens when you’re not part of mainstream America? Do you think traditional helping approaches work with non-mainstream Americans? Why or why not?

Weird, right?!

–From Alongside Community: Learning in service (Routledge, 2017