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In psychology, WEIRD is an acronym for Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic — a capsule description of the undergraduates that the majority of psychological tests are done on. Mostly first-year psychology students. The term is intended to denote awareness that doing all your studies on this tiny group may not in fact give results indicative of humanity in general, and that such claims may in fact be rubbish.

That this was a potential problem has been vaguely acknowledged (at least in departmental chit-chat, if not in any change in behaviour) ever since psychologists started just doing all their testing on their own undergraduates, but was really bludgeoned home by the 2010 paper "The weirdest people in the world?"[1] by Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan, in which they trivially showed several claims of universal human behaviour to be nothing of the sort.


  1. Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan (2010). "The weirdest people in the world?" Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33, pp 61-83. doi:10.1017/S0140525X0999152X.