EMERGING ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL ISSUES ENCOUNTERED WHEN DESIGNING EXPERIMENTS IN ECONOMICS: THE WEIRD CASE

Aurora Ascatigno

Abstract


In the last few decades, several scholars have raised some interdisciplinary issues addressed in the design of experiments within the social sciences, particularly economics. Amongst these issues, the need emerged to look beyond the walls of the laboratory and to consider the multiculturality and interculturality that intrinsically characterise the experimental subjects worldwide and, consequently, the real effectiveness of the results originated from the experimentation. It is against this background of increased attention to the study of humanity, especially concerned with human behaviour, biology, cultures, and linguistics, that this work considers the specific case of subjects from Western Educated Industrialised Rich Democratic (or WEIRD) societies. This case deals with both the assumption that WEIRD people are representative of the universal human population and the issue of claims about human behaviour in top international journals that are largely based on experiments with these “standard subjects”. Indeed, experimental subjects from WEIRD cultures—rather than non-WEIRD—were mainly involved as a subject pool in social science experiments, particularly for tasks with limited expertise requirements. The intensive involvement of subjects from WEIRD cultures and societies would not allow the experimental results to be representative of the whole of humanity, skewing research. Therefore, this work aims to provide a further reflection on the WEIRD case giving an overview of some of the challenges faced while conducting cross-cultural research underpinned by the need for an interdisciplinary approach. More specifically, it considers some specific methods and procedures that can be adopted during experimentation to contribute to achieving a common and interdisciplinary goal concerning the greater understanding of anthropological and cultural issues.

 


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.32043/gsd.v6i4s.776

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