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#49: Joseph Henrich on What History Can Tell Us About Psychology

Joseph Henrich is Professor and Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He is the co-author of one of the most influential social science papers of the previous decade. That paper described "WEIRD" people—those who are from a Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic culture—and how overgeneralization based on WEIRD samples has skewed social science research. He recently published a book expanding on this idea and shedding further light on why WEIRD psychology is so peculiar, called "The WEIRDest People in the World." In this conversation, we talk about where these ideas came from, who really came up with with the acronym WEIRD, how Joe's early trajectory wound through aerospace engineering and anthropology, and much more. The resonating theme of this interview is that history matters. It matters for understanding the psychological make up of our own culture. It matters for how Joe developed his most influential ideas, based on his own unique educational history. Furthermore, psychology as a field has mostly done a poor judge of accounting for the history of people and cultures. Joe is co-author on a recent paper making an argument that this needs to change: see his recent "Psychology as a Historical Science" for more details.


Joe's website.

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