Research Papers


Culture & Psychology


I was trained under the guidance of Harry Triandis and am interested in understanding what makes human groups similar and different in order to broaden psychological science, as well as to inform policy. My early work focused on the distinction of vertical and horizontal individualism and collectivism (see the scale here). Our team has recently begun to systematically investigate the strength of norms across cultures, or what is referred to as cultural tightness-looseness (TL). Teaming up with partners around the world and from different disciplines, we are doing research on the ecological and historical factors that promote TL at both the national and state level, the neurobiological and genetic underpinnings of TL, the evolutionary basis of TL, and the implications of TL for organizations, expatriates, and for societal well-being. I also research subjective culture (e.g., honor, wasta, fatalism) in the Middle East. We use laboratory, field, computational, EEG, and fRMI to examine our research questions.

I also edit the series Advances in Cultural Psychology which summarizes important research programs in the emerging field of Cultural Psychology.

See papers in this area below. 

Gelfand, M. J. (2019) Explaining the puzzle of human diversity. Science, 366(6466), 686-687.

Jackson, J. C., van Egmond, M., Choi, V. K., Ember, C. R., Halberstadt, J., Balanovic, J., ... & Gelfand, M. J. (2019). Ecological and cultural factors underlying the global distribution of prejudice. PloS ONE, 14(9), e0221953.

Van Kleef, G., Gelfand, M. J., & Jetten, J. (2019). The dynamic nature of social norms: New perspectives on norm development, impact, violation, and enforcement. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 103814, 103814-103814. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2019.05.002

Gelfand, M. J. (2019). Universal and culture-specific patterns of tightness-looseness across the 31 Chinese provinces. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(14), 6522-6524.

Geeraert, N., Li, R., Ward, C., Gelfand, M., & Demes, K. A. (2019). A tight spot: How personality moderates the impact of social norms on sojourner adaptation. Psychological Science, 30(3), 333-342.

Jackson, J. C., Gelfand, M., De, S., & Fox, A. (2019). The loosening of American culture over 200 years is associated with a creativity–order trade-off. Nature Human Behavior, 3(3), 244.

Stamkou, E., van Kleef, G. A., Homan, A. C., Gelfand, M. J., van de Vijver, F. J., van Egmond, M. C., ... & Cantarero, K. (2019). Cultural collectivism and tightness moderate responses to norm violators: Effects on power perception, moral emotions, and leader support. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(6), 947-964.

De S., Nau D. S., Pan X., Gelfand M. J. (2018). Tipping points for norm change in human cultures. In Thomson R., Dancy C., Hyder A., Bisgin H. (Eds.), Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Modeling. SBP-BRiMS 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 10899.

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.

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.

Gelfand, M. J., Harrington, J. R., & Jackson, J. C. (2017). The strength of social norms across human groups. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(5), 800-809.

De, S., Nau, D.S., & Gelfand, M. (2017). Understanding norm change: An evolutionary game-theoretic approach. In Das, S., Durfee, E., Larson, K., & Winikoff, E. (Eds.).  Proceedings of the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, 1433-1441.

Li, R., Gordon, S., & Gelfand, M. J. (2017). Tightness–looseness: A new framework to understand consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 27(3), 377-391.

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.

Gelfand, M. J., & Jackson, J. C. (2016). From one mind to many: the emerging science of cultural norms. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 175-181.

Gunia, B. C., Brett, J. M., & Gelfand, M. J. (2016). The science of culture and negotiation. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 78-83.

De, S., Gelfand, M. J., Nau, D., & Roos, P. (2015). The inevitability of ethnocentrism revisited: Ethnocentrism diminishes as mobility increases. Scientific Reports, 5, 17963.

Mu, Y., Kitayama, S., Han, S., & Gelfand, M. J. (2015). How culture gets embrained: Cultural differences in event-related potentials of social norm violations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(50), 15348-15353.

Harrington, J. R., Boski, P., & Gelfand, M. J. (2015). Culture and national well-being: Should societies emphasize freedom or constraint?. PloS one, 10(6), e0127173.

Roos, P., Gelfand, M., Nau, D., & Lun, J. (2015). Societal threat and cultural variation in the strength of social norms: An evolutionary basis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 129, 14-23.

Realo, A., Linnamägi, K., & Gelfand, M. J. (2015). The cultural dimension of tightness–looseness: An analysis of situational constraint in Estonia and Greece. International Journal of Psychology, 50(3), 193-204.

Roos, P., Gelfand, M., Nau, D., & Carr, R. (2014). High strength-of-ties and low mobility enable the evolution of third-party punishment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1776), 20132661.

Harrington, J. R., & Gelfand, M. J. (2014). Tightness–looseness across the 50 united states. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(22), 7990-7995.

Salas, E., & Gelfand, M. J. (2013). Introduction to the Special Issue: Collaboration in multicultural environments. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34(6), 735-738.

Gelfand, M. J., & Lun, J. (2013). Ecological priming: Convergent evidence for the link between ecology and psychological processes. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(5), 489-490.

Mrazek, A. J., Chiao, J. Y., Blizinsky, K. D., Lun, J., & Gelfand, M. J. (2013). The role of culture–gene coevolution in morality judgment: Examining the interplay between tightness–looseness and allelic variation of the serotonin transporter gene. Culture and Brain, 1(2-4), 100-117.

Gelfand, M. J., & Lun, J. (2013). The culture of the situation: The role of situational strength in cultural systems. Social Psychology. 16(1): 34-38.

Salas, E., Salazar, M. R., & Gelfand, M. J. (2013). Understanding diversity as culture. The Oxford Handbook of Diversity and Work, 32-51. Buy here

Kashima, Y., & Gelfand, M.J. (2012). A history of culture in psychology. In A. W. Kruglanski & W. Stroebe (Eds.), Handbook of the History of Social Psychology, 499-520. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Gelfand, M. J. (2012). Culture’s constraints: International differences in the strength of social norms. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(6), 420-424.

Gelfand, M. J., Frese, M., & Salmon, E. (2011). Cultural influences on errors: Prevention, detection, and management. In M. Frese & D. Hoffman (Eds.) Errors in Organizations, 273315. London: Psychology Press/Taylor and Francis Group. Buy here.

Gelfand, M. J., Raver, J. L., Nishii, L., Leslie, L. M., Lun, J., Lim, B. C., ... & Aycan, Z. (2011). Differences between tight and loose cultures: A 33-nation study. Science, 332(6033), 1100-1104. View supplemental materials here

Gelfand, M. J. (2011). The trials and tribulations of cross-cultural research. In F. Leong & A. Ryan (Eds). Conducting Multinational Research Projects in Organizational Psychology: Challenges and Opportunities.

Fulmer, C. A., Gelfand, M. J., Kruglanski, A. W., Kim-Prieto, C., Diener, E., Pierro, A., & Higgins, E. T. (2010). On “feeling right” in cultural contexts: How person-culture match affects self-esteem and subjective well-being. Psychological Science, 21(11), 1563-1569.

Gelfand, M. J., Lyons, S. L., & Lun, J. (2011). Toward a psychological science of globalization. Journal of Social Issues, 67(4), 841-853.

Ramesh, A., & Gelfand, M. J. (2010). Will they stay or will they go? The role of job embeddedness in predicting turnover in individualistic and collectivistic cultures. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(5), 807.

Gelfand M.J., Diener, E. (2010). Culture and Psychological Science: Introduction to the Special Section. Psychological Science. 5(4) 390. DOI: 10.1177/1745691610374590

Chiu, C. Y., Gelfand, M. J., Yamagishi, T., Shteynberg, G., & Wan, C. (2010). Intersubjective culture: The role of intersubjective perceptions in cross-cultural research. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(4), 482-493.

Shteynberg, G., Gelfand, M. J., & Kim, K. (2009). Peering into the “magnum mysterium” of culture: The explanatory power of descriptive norms. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 40(1), 46-69.

Gelfand, M. J., Leslie, L. M., & Fehr, R. (2008). To prosper, organizational psychology should… adopt a global perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior: The International Journal of Industrial, Occupational and Organizational Psychology and Behavior, 29(4), 493-517.

Gelfand, M. J., Erez, M., & Aycan, Z. (2007). Cross-cultural organizational behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 479-514.

Kashima, Y., Kashima, E. S., Kim, U., & Gelfand, M. (2006). Describing the social world: How is a person, a group, and a relationship described in the East and the West?. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42(3), 388-396.

Gelfand, M. J., Nishii, L. H., & Raver, J. L. (2006). On the nature and importance of cultural tightness-looseness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(6), 1225.

Kashima, Y., Kashima, E., Chiu, C. Y., Farsides, T., Gelfand, M., Hong, Y. Y., ... & Yzerbyt, V. (2005). Culture, essentialism, and agency: Are individuals universally believed to be more real entities than groups?. European Journal of Social Psychology, 35(2), 147-169.

Yamaguchi, S., Gelfand, M., Ohashi, M. M., & Zemba, Y. (2005). The cultural psychology of control: Illusions of personal versus collective control in the United States and Japan. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 36(6), 750-761.

Gelfand, M. J., Lim, B. C., & Raver, J. L. (2004). Culture and accountability in organizations: Variations in forms of social control across cultures. Human Resource Management Review, 14(1), 135-160.

Gelfand, M. J., Raver, J. L., & Holcombe Ehrhart, K. (2002). Methodological issues in cross-cultural organizational research. In S. G. Rogelberg (Ed.), Handbook of research methods in industrial and organizational psychology, (pp. 216-246). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Triandis, H. C., & Gelfand, M. J. (1998). Converging measurement of horizontal and vertical individualism and collectivism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(1), 118.

Gelfand, M. J., Triandis, H. C., & Chan, D. K. S. (1996). Individualism versus collectivism or versus authoritarianism?. European Journal of Social Psychology, 26(3), 397-410.

Chan, D. K. S. (1996). Tightness-looseness revisited: Some preliminary analyses in Japan and the United States. International Journal of Psychology, 31(1), 1-12.