Researchers have their hands full with all sorts of data these days. Ranging from potentially life-changing findings to answers to things you’ve always wondered, researchers do it all. Just over 10 years ago, Canadian researchers at UBC tried to answer an age-old question, who are the weirdest people in the world? The answer may or may not surprise you.
If you guessed that our neighbors down south would be involved, then you are correct. After all, there is no other country in the world where you can see the words “Florida Man” appear in national news titles multiple times a week. But before you shake your head and say you knew it, the reason why the US tops the list as having the weirdest people in the world is pretty interesting.
Basically, it’s because Americans are the most individualistic people in the world. What’s more, college-educated folks are even more individualistic. So while having a degree might not get you a job these days, it will make you weirder! Definitely $100k+ well spent.
But when you think about it, individuality is kind of a good driving factor behind “weirdness”. Because the more individualistic people are, the harder people have to try to stand out and the weirder things get. But what exactly is weird? Well, that question is a lot harder to answer.
After looking through existing data on behavioral sciences, UBC researchers found that factors like independence and self-concepts played a role in weirdness as well as anti-social punishment and cooperation. They, of course, also looked at studies with people globally but in the end, 68% of subjects for the behavioral science testing came from the United States and that obviously affects the end results.
Just how much does that affect the end results? Well, it was also pointed out that many of the research participants were American undergraduates and that a “randomly selected American undergraduate is more than 4,000 times more likely to be a research participant than is a randomly selected person from outside of the West.”
Now, the interesting part about the data despite it being heavily American, is that there was little pre-existing data to compare Americans with other westerners, meaning there’s still plenty of room for further research in other countries around the world. But what this study did suggest is that at the very least, Americans are extreme. That kinda seems like an intuitive statement these days.
With all of this data in mind, probably the easiest way to think about weirdness in people is through actions that differ from what humans and society deem normal.
Obviously, a lot of this is subjective and like many behavioral science studies, very complicated. Not to mention, deeming a group of people weird these days can definitely be seen as a tad bit problematic. But we will say that researchers made a point of stating in their findings that the term weird was used with no negative associations on their part.
So now you know, well you know what researchers knew 10 years ago. But hey, it feels pretty safe to say that Americans are definitely built differently. If you’d like to read all of the data you can click here but we’ll warn you, it’s dense. Enjoy folks!