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Issues and Debates – WEIRD Populations

4. Why Are There Differences?

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about why there is a difference between results across WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations, focusing in particular on: (i) the common criticism of psychology being that much of its early, and more contemporary, research was/is done on undergraduate students in Western countries, particularly in the US; (ii) the nature of US populations to stand out even from other WEIRD populations on factors involving individualism; (iii) recent research which labels the US population as the most individualistic in the world, suggesting that differences between individualistic and collectivist cultures could be responsible for the differences in results between WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations; (iv) this research’s alignment with historic anthropological research, indicating that the US population is the most psychologically unusual in the world; (v) Shweder and colleagues’ ‘big three’ of morality: autonomy, community and divinity; (vi) Haidt, Graham and Joseph’s six moral foundations: care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, and liberty/oppression.


In this course, Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University) explores research with WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations. In the first lecture, we think about what a WEIRD population is. In the second lecture, we think about altruistic punishment as a forensic psychology example of research which differs in results across different populations. Next, we think about moral reasoning as a second example of a concept which WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations differ in their presentation of. In the fourth and final lecture, we think of some key reasons as to why these differences occur.


Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor of education and research and head of the School of Human and Social Sciences at Buckinghamshire New University. Professor O’Keeffe’s research interests include investigative psychology and parapsychology, and has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities. Some of Professor O’Keeffe’s recent publications include 'Things That Go Bump In The Literature: An Environmental Appraisal of 'Haunted Houses'' (2020) and 'Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Investigating the impact of victim-preference for level of engagement' (2014).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, July 20). Issues and Debates – WEIRD Populations - Why Are There Differences? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, C. "Issues and Debates – WEIRD Populations – Why Are There Differences?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Jul 2022,

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