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Rule Makers,

    Rule Breakers

How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World

“Groundbreaking…Anyone interested in our cultural divides will find tremendous insight here.”

Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now


Professor of Organizational Behavior | Stanford Graduate School of Business 

Professor of Psychology by Courtesy | Stanford University


I am a Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Professor of Psychology by Courtesy at Stanford University. Under my direction, the Culture Lab studies the strength of cultural norms, negotiation, conflict, revenge, forgiveness, and diversity. My philosophy is to incorporate as many interdisciplinary perspectives as possible into my research. We work with computer scientists, neuroscientists, political scientists, and--increasingly--biologists to understand all things cultural.


Check out the group here, and find out how to get involved here.

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Select Papers

Gelfand, M. J., et al. (2011). Differences between tight and loose cultures: A 33-nation study. Science, 332(6033), 1100-1104. PDF.

Choi, V.K., Shrestha, S., Gelfand, M.J. (2022). When danger strikes: A linguistic tool for tracking America’s collective response to threats. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. PDF.

Gelfand, M. J., Jackson, J. C., Pan, X., Nau, D., Pieper, D., Denison, E., ... & Wang, M. (2021). The relationship between cultural tightness–looseness and COVID-19 cases and deaths: a global analysis. The Lancet Planetary Health. PDF.

Harrington, J. R., & Gelfand, M. J. (2014). Tightness–looseness across the 50 united states. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201317937. PDF.

Mu, Y., Han, S., & Gelfand, M. J. (2017). The role of gamma interbrain synchrony in social coordination when humans face territorial threats. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 12(10), 1614-1623. PDF.

Gelfand, M. J., Aycan, Z., Erez, M., & Leung, K. (2017). Cross-cultural industrial organizational psychology and organizational behavior: A hundred-year journey. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), 514. PDF.

Gelfand, et al. (2015). Culture and getting to yes: The linguistic signature of creative agreements in the United States and Egypt. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36(7), 967-989. PDF.

Gelfand, M. J., & Kashima, Y. (2016). Editorial overview: Culture: Advances in the science of culture and psychology. Current opinion in psychology, 8(1), 1-7. PDF.

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Popular Press

January 6, 2023

How Threatening are Threats


Project Syndicate

August 23, 2021

A Failure of Fear: Why Certain Nations Flunked the COVID-19 Threat Test


Behavioral Scientist

July/August 2021

The Threat Reflex


Foreign Affairs

April 11, 2021

Fareed's Take: Society's role in Covid's spread



February 23, 2021

Why 'Tight' Cultures May Fare Better Than 'Loose' Cultures In A Pandemic



February 21, 2021

How cultural differences have affected Covid-19 outcomes




New Handbook on Cross-Cultural Organizational Behavior was published in February 2024

Michele Gelfand will be recruiting a new Post Doc for 2024-2026 and applications are now open

Handbook of Advances in Culture and Psychology, Volume 10 out now

Michele Gelfand and Ying Lin Receive 1.7 M Grant from the John Templeton Foundation to Study the Evolution of Trust Across the Globe

Gelfand Elected Member of the Council on Foreign Relations

New Book: ISIS in Iraq, The Social and Psychological Foundations of Terror out now!

Gelfand Becomes Deputy Editor at PNAS Nexus, the New Sister Journal of PNAS

Gelfand Received the 2022 SIOP Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award

New Threat Dictionary Published in PNAS

Gelfand Listed as MBA Professor to Watch.

Gelfand is Inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, April 2022

Gelfand is Elected Fellow of the International Association for Conflict Management, 2021



Feel free to contact me with the provided form. I will do my best to reply in a timely manner:

Stanford Graduate School of Business 

655 Knight Way 

Stanford, CA 94305 

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