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Summary

A bold, epic account of how the co-evolution of psychology and culture created the peculiar Western mind that has profoundly shaped the modern world.

Perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. If so, you’re rather psychologically peculiar.

Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. They focus on themselves—their attributes, accomplishments, and aspirations—over their relationships and social roles. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically distinct? What role did these psychological differences play in the industrial revolution and the global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries?

In The WEIRDest People in the World, Joseph Henrich draws on cutting-edge research in anthropology, psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology to explore these questions and more. He illuminates the origins and evolution of family structures, marriage, and religion, and the profound impact these cultural transformations had on human psychology. Mapping these shifts through ancient history and late antiquity, Henrich reveals that the most fundamental institutions of kinship and marriage changed dramatically under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. It was these changes that gave rise to the WEIRD psychology that would coevolve with impersonal markets, occupational specialization, and free competition—laying the foundation for the modern world.

Provocative and engaging in both its broad scope and its surprising details, The WEIRDest People in the World explores how culture, institutions, and psychology shape one another, and explains what this means for both our most personal sense of who we are as individuals and also the large-scale social, political, and economic forces that drive human history.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 Joseph Henrich (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic reviews

"A fascinating, vigorously argued work that probes deeply into the way “WEIRD people” think." (Kirkus)

"Joseph Henrich has undertaken a massively ambitious work that explains the transition to the modern world from kin-based societies, drawing on a wealth of data across disciplines that significantly contributes to our understanding of this classic issue in social theory." (Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order and Political Order and Political Decay

"Ambitious and fascinating...This meaty book is ready-made for involved discussions." (Publisher's Weekly

What listeners say about The WEIRDest People in the World

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interesting and intriguing

a very interesting and insightful compendium that highlights some interesting differences and cultural implications from different tribes of people around the world

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Difficult to listen to

I was seriously thinking that this was a robot reading, ie., AI reading of book. I was not able to listen, so I can not judge the contents

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  • Phillip Falk
  • 24-10-20

Lots of mispronounced words

Just a quick note that the narrator mispronounces lots of words. Not super difficult stuff - isn’t there a producer / editor to catch this stuff?

25 people found this helpful

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  • Douglas Osborne
  • 30-12-20

bad narration of a good book

I highly recommend this book-- for reading. I don't recommend the audible version. The narrator has a pleasant enough voice and enunciates clearly (hence two stars instead of one), but his pronunciation is often distracting (e.g., "-ure" words such as "endure" sound like "-oor" words, and "prevalence" is read with the stress on the second syllable and a long "a" sound ...). The real problem, though, is that the narrator doesn't read as if he understands what he's saying. He seems to be reading word by word, rather than seeing where a sentence is going and adjusting his delivery to reflect the larger structure and the various components --phrases, clauses, conjunctions-- within it. I've been listening to audiobooks for at least 25 years, and I don't recall having come across another narrator who does so little to help me keep track of where I am in a sentence. Nevertheless, I did manage to listen to the whole book despite nearly giving up after 30 minutes. Switching to 1.25 speed (a first, for me) made a big difference.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Brian
  • 02-01-21

Ruined by Poor Narration - Save your Money

A great book ruined by sloppy narration. Pathetic. The narrator sounds like he’s never read a book aloud before.

5 people found this helpful

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  • T. Hagstrom
  • 14-01-21

poor narrator

the narrator destroys this audiobook, it is almost unbearable to listen to. story is great en enlightening.

4 people found this helpful

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  • hans sandberg
  • 06-12-20

One of the best books I've read about who we sre

This book continues and expands on Joe Henrich's excellent "The Secret of our Success" (2015). It must be one of the best books about anthropology, economics, and psychology in a long time. it explains who we (Europeans and North Americans) are, and we became this way. It's a well told story and very convincing.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Austin Tyler Wilford
  • 15-12-20

Digestible Academia

This book does a dantastic job using high level behavioral studies to make its point, while making it graspable for any level reader.

The book falls a bit short of the apex because I feel that there wasnt a good point made for what should be done with the information given in this book. It makes it point and then ends.

1 person found this helpful

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  • roger
  • 26-02-21

Too tedious

I really wanted to like this book and hung in for several chapters but found the analyses excessively tedious for an audible book. Do not listen while driving as it is sedating.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-02-21

Fascinating in its broad implications

While some of the psych studies cited make me cringe a bit with their lack of rigor, I think the broad theories proposed by Henrich here are quite worth considering. Also does a phenomenal job building the reader’s knowledge of kin-based institutions from the ground up so as to fully process the implications of his theories on the West.

Also, the narration is truly not that bad. I may be biased as an American, since the narrator has a strong american accent. But the information contained therein is too valuable to be put off by the occasional mispronunciation.

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  • HGL
  • 12-02-21

How populations gain their characteristics

The author leads a group of scholars that analyze the characteristics of populations and to a limited extent designed experiments to quantify the levels of these characteristics. I would expect that our leaders who want to shape world opinion would need to understand these matters. I had no complaint with the reading of the book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joseph Jones
  • 02-02-21

I understand why Africa is how it is now!

Joseph's book helps you understand the psychological differences between the prosperous West and Africa.