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 Psychology | University of Maryland, College Park


I am a Professor of Psychology and Affiliate of the RH Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. 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. I will be moving to the Stanford Graduate School of Business starting Fall 2021.


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.

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

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



February 1, 2021

Why countries with 'loose', rule-breaking cultures have been hit harder by Covid


The Guardian

November 22, 2020

The psychology of Covid-19 stubbornness: why some American’s refuse to follow the rules



May 27, 2020

As states reopen, tensions flare between the rule followers and rule breakers


The Conversation


Rule Makers, Rule Breakers - Out now!

Gelfand is elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, April 2019

See Gelfand's new article in Science, November 2019

Gelfand is invited to join the board of the National Academy of Sciences


Gelfand receives the 2019 Outstanding Contributions to Cultural Psychology Award, SPSP, February 2019

Gelfand is named an Honorary Fellow of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, July 2018

Gelfand receives Award for Applications of Scientific Principles to the Advancement of International Business, Institute for Cross-Cultural Management, May 2018

Gelfand is named Distinguished University Professor, September 2017.

Gelfand receives the Outstanding International Psychologist Award from the APA, August 2017

Gelfand receives Academy of Management Conflict Management Most Influential Paper Award, August 2017





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

3147C Biology/Psychology Building 

University of Maryland 

4094 Campus Dr

College Park, MD 20742

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