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Essay One: Watters

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Format and Requirements: 4-5 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins, no cover page

In “Being WEIRD,” Ethan Watters looks at the work of social scientist Joseph Henrich, whose research challenged long-held beliefs that humans share inherent psychological traits. Henrich’s study of the “ultimatum game” outside the industrial West showed that our thinking and decision-making processes are heavily shaped by culture; culture shapes how we perceive the world around us, as well as our relationship to it, even more than we may have thought. Henrich’s research paper, co-authored with Steven Heine and Ara Norenzayan, finds that Americans are significantly overrepresented in all kinds of scientific studies while also being the most “weird” (by which Henrich et al. mean Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic). The research by Henrich and his colleagues put culture at the front of all kinds of experimental human research: as Watters puts it, “if human cognition is shaped by cultural ideas and behavior, it can’t be studied without taking into account what those ideas and behaviors are and how they are different from place to place” (499). For this essay assignment you will apply Watters’ analysis of Henrich’s findings to your own analysis of culturally-specific ideas and behavior, through an analysis of games.

Assignment Objectives:

Write an essay that analyzes one or two classic games from your childhood and examines how the games reflect cultural norms. These norms might include behaviors, ethics, values, and ways of seeing the world that are important in your culture. Analyze the rules of the games, considering how the games reflect traits of your culture, and why they might or might not make sense in other cultural contexts. Watters suggests that culture shapes all kinds of things including “our conceptions of fairness, how we categorize things, our method of judging and decision making, and our deeply held beliefs about the nature of the self, among other aspects of our psychological makeup” (498). What do these games help you understand about your own culture’s implicit and explicit rules that you hadn’t thought about before?

Criteria for Evaluation:

  • Argument: Argument directly and fully answers the prompt; is clearly stated early in the paper; is original, compelling and logical, avoiding absolute claims
  • Evidence: Appropriate amount of relevant, accurate, and justifiably interpreted quotation. Quotations are thoroughly introduced, explained, analyzed, and connected to argument. Possible counter-arguments are considered.
  • Organization: Paragraphs maintain argumentative focus, exclude extraneous information, appear in a logical order, and transition smoothly. Introduction sets forth argument and goals of essay. Conclusion opens up avenues for future research.
  • Audience: Consistent, academic tone. Appropriate amount of contextual information, anticipating audience questions. Addresses significant issues and makes them important to audience.
  • Grammar and Format: Errors in grammar, spelling, and usage limited or non-existent. Correct MLA format, including proper quotation citation.

I put the reading section in the files thank you