Psychological science has a lofty goal: to understand the mental life of humans. Psychologists have made great strides in this pursuit. However, most advancements have been made by studying a relatively small slice of humanity. Described as WEIRD samples, most studies use participants who are Western, Educated, from Industrial, Rich, and Democratic countries. If this subset of people differs from humanity as a whole, psychology’s answers to big, universal questions may not reliably generalize.
This problem is not new for psychologists, and many have pursued more diverse samples by collecting data in non-WEIRD locations. However, even when researchers collect data from non-Western countries, they often draw from student populations at universities. Although a positive step, these samples may lack generalizability within their countries.
We seek to more comprehensively examine psychology’s ability to understand humans, globally, with the Psychological Science Accelerator (PSA), an established multi-national network of over 500 laboratories in 72 countries. With our network, we will investigate research questions related to the John Templeton Foundation’s strategic priorities. This will allow us to match the global reach of JTF’s areas of interest with global samples.
We will conduct 4 global studies that investigate to-be-selected questions related to JTF’s strategic priorities. For each study, we will collect data from participants using both standard university samples and from more representative community samples. This will allow us to more comprehensively examine the generalizability of the selected studies’ findings. We will also examine the extent to which researchers can accurately predict the generalizability of the results of these 4 studies. These data will allow psychologists to test whether our research is truly achieving the goal of psychological science by providing reliable answers to big questions.