Intrinsic to the social, educational and behavioural sciences is the aim of addressing patterned variation in human thought and action across settings. Surprisingly, however, empirical work in these sciences continues to be limited by a lack of diversity in study populations, research methodology and the researchers themselves. This Perspective analyses these dimensions of diversity as they are situated in and affected by the larger organizational systems for publication, grants and academic advancement. This complex system appears to operate in a mutually reinforcing manner to discourage diversity. Our analysis suggests that diversity goals central to our sciences will require systems-level action rather than a focus on any one component in isolation.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.67 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Medin, D. L. & Bang, M. Who’s Asking? Native Science, Western Science and Science Education (MIT Press, 2014).
Henrich, J., Heine, S. J. & Norenzayan, A. Most people are not WEIRD. Nature 466, 29 (2010).
Arnett, J. J. The neglected 95%, a challenge to psychology’s philosophy of science. Am. Psychol. 64, 571–574 (2008).
Lehman, D. R. & Nisbett, R. E. A longitudinal study of the effects of undergraduate training on reasoning. Dev. Psychol. 26, 952–960 (1990).
Frank, R. H., Gilovich, T. D. & Regan, D. T. Do economists make bad citizens?. J. Econ. Perspect. 10, 187–192 (1996).
Frank, R. H., Gilovich, T. & Regan, D. T. Does studying economics inhibit cooperation?. J. Econ. Perspect. 7, 159–171 (1993).
Wang, L., Malhotra, D. & Murnighan, J. K. Economics education and greed. Acad. Manag. Learn. Edu. 10, 643–660 (2011).
Ojalehto, B. & Medin, D. in Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Interdisciplinary, Searchable, and Linkable Resource (eds Scott, R. & Kosslyn, S. ) (John Wiley and Sons, 2015).
Carey, S. The Origin of Concepts (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009).
Gelman, S. A. & Legare, C. H. Concepts and folk theories. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 40, 379–398 (2011).
Shweder, R. A. et al. Likeness and likelihood in everyday thought: magical thinking in judgments about personality [and comments and reply]. Curr. Anthropol. 18, 637–658 (1977).
Carey, S. Conceptual Change in Childhood (MIT Press, 1985).
Medin, D. L., Waxman, S. R., Woodring, J. & Washinawatok, K. Human-centeredness is not a universal feature of young children’s reasoning: culture and experience matter when reasoning about biological entities. Cogn. Dev. 25, 197–207 (2010).
Waxman, S., Medin, D. & Ross, N. Folkbiological reasoning from a cross-cultural developmental perspective: early essentialist notions are shaped by cultural beliefs. Dev. Psychol. 43, 294–308 (2007).
Herrmann, P., Waxman, S. R. & Medin, D. L. Anthropocentrism is not the first step in children’s reasoning about the natural world. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107, 9979–9984 (2010).
Atran, S. & Medin, D. The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature (MIT Press, 2008).
Bang, M., Medin, D. L. & Atran, S. Cultural mosaics and mental models of nature. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 13868–13874 (2007).
Mullainathan, S. & Shafir, E. Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much (Henry Holt and Company, 2013).
Shah, A. K., Shafir, E. & Mullainathan, S. Scarcity frames value. Psychol. Sci. 26, 402–412 (2015).
Majid, A. & Levinson, S. C. The senses in language and culture. Senses Soc. 6, 5–18 (2011).
Wnuk, E. & Majid, A. Revisiting the limits of language: the odor lexicon of Maniq. Cognition 131, 125–138 (2014).
Majid, A. & Burenhult, N. Odors are expressible in language, as long as you speak the right language. Cognition 130, 266–270 (2014).
Hruschka, D. & Hadley, C. How much do universal anthropometric standards bias the global monitoring of obesity and undernutrition?. Obes. Rev. 17, 1030–1039 (2016).
Medin, D. L., Bennis, W. & Chandler, M. Culture and the home-field disadvantage. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 5, 708–713 (2010).
Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads (National Academies Press, 2011).
Gutiérrez, K. D. & Rogoff, B. Cultural ways of learning: individual traits or repertoires of practice. Educ. Researcher 32, 19–25 (2003).
Small, M. F. & Hrdy, S. B. Secondary sex ratios by maternal rank, parity, and age in captive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Am. J. Primatol. 11, 359–365 (1986).
Graham, S. & Hudley, C. in Handbook of Competence and Motivation (eds Elliot, A. J. & Dweck, C. S. ) 392–413 (Guildford Press, 2005).
Spencer, S. Race and Ethnicity: Culture, Identity and Representation (Routledge, 2006).
Crocker, J. & Major, B. Social stigma and self-esteem: the self-protective properties of stigma. Psychol. Rev. 96, 608–630 (1989).
Kohlberg, L. The claim to moral adequacy of a highest stage of moral judgment. J. Philos. 70, 630–646 (1973).
Kohlberg, L. The Psychology of Moral Development: The Nature and Validity of Moral Stages (Harper & Row, 1984).
Gilligan, C. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (Harvard Univ. Press, 1982).
Snarey, J. R. Cross-cultural universality of social-moral development: a critical review of Kohlbergian research. Psychol. Bull. 97, 202–232 (1985).
Duarte, J. L. et al. Political diversity will improve social psychological science. Behav. Brain Sci. 38, e130 (2015).
Mountz, A. et al. For slow scholarship: a feminist politics of resistance through collective action in the neoliberal university. ACME 14, 1235–1259 (2015).
Payne, P. G. & Wattchow, B. Phenomenological deconstruction, slow pedagogy, and the corporeal turn in wild environmental/outdoor education. Can. J. Environ. Educ. 14, 15–32 (2009).
Fiedler, K. What constitutes strong psychological science? The (neglected) role of diagnosticity and a priori theorizing. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 12, 46–61 (2017).
Neisser, U. in Practical Aspects of Memory (eds Gruneberg, M. M, Morris, P. F. & Sykes, R. N. ) 3–24 (Academic Press, 1978).
Rozin, P. Social psychology and science: some lessons from Solomon Asch. Pers. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 5, 2–14 (2001).
Rozin, P. What kind of empirical research should we publish, fund, and reward? A different perspective. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 4, 435–439 (2009).
Lloyd, G. E. R. Cognitive variations: reflections on the unity and diversity of the human mind. (Oxford Univ. Press, 2007).
Yoshikawa, H., Mistry, R. & Wang, Y. Advancing methods in research on Asian American children and youth. Child Dev. 87, 1033–1050 (2016).
Van Bavel, J. J., Mende-Siedlecki, P., Brady, W. J. & Reinero, D. A. Contextual sensitivity in scientific reproducibility. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 113, 6454–6459 (2016).
Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D. & Funder, D. C. Psychology as the science of self-reports and finger movements: whatever happened to actual behavior?. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 2, 396–403 (2007).
Hofmann, W., Wisneski, D. C., Brandt, M. J. & Skitka, L. J. Morality in everyday life. Science 345, 1340–1343 (2014).
Hofmann, W. & Patel, P. V. SurveySignal: a convenient solution for experience sampling research using participants’ own smartphones. Soc. Sci. Comput. Rev. 33, 235–253 (2015).
Fischhoff, B. The real world: what good is it?. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 65, 232–248 (1996).
Bennis, W. M., Medin, D. L. & Bartels, D. M. The costs and benefits of calculation and moral rules. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 5, 187–202 (2010).
Lepper, M. & Greene, D. Turning play into work: effects of adult surveillance and extrinsic rewards on children’s intrinsic motivation. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 31, 479–486 (1975).
Goswami, I. & Urminsky, O. The dynamic effect of incentives on postreward task engagement. J. Exp. Psychol. Gen. 146, 1–19 (2017).
Gneezy, U., Meier, S. & Rey-Biel, P. When and why incentives (don’t) work to modify behavior. J. Econ. Perspect. 25, 191–209 (2011).
Jackson, C. K. A little now for a lot later a look at a texas advanced placement incentive program. J. Hum. Resour. 45, 591–639 (2010).
Sternberg, R. J. Who are the bright children? The cultural context of being and acting intelligent. Educ. Researcher 36, 148–155 (2007).
Sternberg, R. J. & The Rainbow Project Collaborators. The Rainbow Project: enhancing the SAT through assessments of analytical, practical, and creative skills. Intelligence 34, 321–350 (2006).
Sternberg, R. J., Bonney, C. R., Gabora, L. & Merrifield, M. WICS: a model for college and university admissions. Educ. Psychol. 47, 30–41 (2012).
The authors declare no competing interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Medin, D., Ojalehto, B., Marin, A. et al. Systems of (non-)diversity. Nat Hum Behav 1, 0088 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-017-0088
Evolution and Human Behavior (2020)
Annual Review of Psychology (2020)
Social motivation is associated with increased weight granted to cooperation-related impressions in face evaluation tasks
PLOS ONE (2020)
How Diverse Are the Samples Used in the Journals ‘Evolution & Human Behavior’ and ‘Evolutionary Psychology’?
Evolutionary Psychological Science (2019)
Social Psychological and Personality Science (2019)