Over the past century, we have explored the solar system, split the atom, and wired the Earth, but somehow, despite all of our technical prowess, we have struggled to understand something far more important: our own cultural differences. Using a variety of methodologies, our research has uncovered is that many cultural differences reflect a simple, but often invisible distinction: The strength of social norms. Tight cultures have strong social norms and little tolerance for deviance, while loose cultures have weak social norms and are highly permissive. The tightness or looseness of social norms turns out to be a Rosetta Stone for human groups. It illuminates similar patterns of difference across nations, states, organizations, and social class, and the template also explains differences among traditional societies. It’s also a global fault line: conflicts we encounter can spring from the structural stress of tight-loose tension. By unmasking culture to reveal tight-loose dynamics, we can see fresh patterns in history, illuminate some of today’s most puzzling trends and events, and see our own behavior in a new light. At a time of intense political conflict and rapid social change, this template shows us that there is indeed a method to the madness, and that moderation – not tight or loose extremes – has never been more needed.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Michele Gelfand is the John H. Scully Professor of Cross-Cultural Management and Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business School and Professor of Psychology by Courtesy. Gelfand uses field, experimental, computational and neuroscience methods to understand the evolution of culture and its multilevel consequences. Her work has been published in outlets such as Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Psychological Science, Nature Human behavior, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Applied Psychology, Academy of Management Journal, among others. Gelfand is the founding co-editor of the Advances in Culture and Psychology series (Oxford University Press). Her book Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World was published by Scribner in 2018. She is the Past President of the International Association for Conflict Management and co-founder of the Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution. She received the 2016 Diener award from SPSP, the 2017 Outstanding International Psychologist Award from the American Psychological Association, the 2019 Outstanding Cultural Psychology Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the 2020 Rubin Theory-to-Practice award from the International Association of Conflict Management, the 2021 Contributions to Society award from the Academy of Management, and the Annaliese Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation. Gelfand was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Virtual to Public. Only those with an active Stanford ID with access to Encina E008 in Encina Hall may attend in person.