The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

November 1, 2020
The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

A bold, epic account of how the co-evolution ofpsychology and culture created the peculiar Western mind that hasprofoundly shaped the modern world.Perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western,Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. If so, you’rerather psychologically peculiar.Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have everlived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed,control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. They focus onthemselves—their attributes, accomplishments, and aspirations—overtheir relationships and social roles. How did WEIRD populationsbecome so psychologically distinct? What role did thesepsychological differences play in the industrial revolution and theglobal expansion of Europe during the last few centuries?In The WEIRDest People in the World, Joseph Henrich draws oncutting-edge research in anthropology, psychology, economics, andevolutionary biology to explore these questions and more. Heilluminates the origins and evolution of family structures,marriage, and religion, and the profound impact these culturaltransformations had on human psychology. Mapping these shiftsthrough ancient history and late antiquity, Henrich reveals thatthe most fundamental institutions of kinship and marriage changeddramatically under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. It wasthese changes that gave rise to the WEIRD psychology that wouldcoevolve with impersonal markets, occupational specialization, andfree competition—laying the foundation for the modern world.Provocative and engaging in both its broad scope and itssurprising details, The WEIRDest People in the World explores howculture, institutions, and psychology shape one another, andexplains what this means for both our most personal sense of who weare as individuals and also the large-scale social, political, andeconomic forces that drive human history.Include black-and-white illustrations.