Syed on the acronym W.E.I.R.D.

Headshot of Dr. Moin Syed

In 2010, a paper by Henrich et al. coined the term WEIRD to describe a lack of diversity in research. WEIRD stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. The acronym has been used in psychology classrooms and research and has been seen as a useful tool. 

A recent MN Daily piece titled, “Opinion: The W.E.I.R.D. situation is getting a little weird,” argues that the acronym has a few shortcomings. The author drew upon some of the work from Dr. Moin Syed who discussed WEIRD as an example of “acronym absurdity,” which means that the overuse of the term may result in various outcomes, including lacking an understanding of what descriptors are being left out. Accordingly, it is important to remember that the WEIRD acronym is not an end-all-be-all of underrepresented groups within research. For more of Dr. Syed’s thoughts on WEIRD, read his 2021 blog post, WEIRD Times: Three Reasons to Stop Using a Silly Acronym.


Moin Syed, Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota.

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