The Origins of WEIRD Psychology
174 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2018
Date Written: June 22, 2018
Recent research not only confirms the existence of substantial psychological variation around the globe but also highlights the peculiarity of populations that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD). We propose that much of this variation arose as people psychologically adapted to differing kin-based institutions — the set of social norms governing descent, marriage, residence and related domains. We further propose that part of the variation in these institutions arose historically from the Catholic Church’s marriage and family policies, which contributed to the dissolution of Europe’s traditional kin-based institutions, leading eventually to the predominance of nuclear families and impersonal institutions. By combining data on 20 psychological outcomes with historical measures of both kinship and Church exposure, we find support for these ideas in a comprehensive array of analyses across countries, among European regions and between individuals with different cultural backgrounds.
Keywords: kin-based institutions, cousin marriage, individualism, cross-cultural psychology, church marriage prohibitions
JEL Classification: N91, N30, D03, Z10, Z12, Z13
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