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.

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

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



February 1, 2021

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


The Guardian


Gelfand was inducted as an IACM Fellow, 2021


Gelfand received the 2022 SIOP Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award

New Threat Dictionary published in PNAS

Gelfand listed as MBA professor to watch.

Gelfand is elected to the National Academy of Sciences, April 2021

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

Josh Jackson (lab alumnus) is starting a post-doc at Kellogg School of Management, Fall 2021

Read Gelfand's new paper in The Lancet Planetary Health, January 2021

Ren Li (lab alumna) is starting as an assistant professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Fall 2021

Lisa Leslie (lab alumna) is promoted to full professor at New York University, Stern School of Business (Fall 2021) and is elected Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (2019)

Gelfand receives IACM Best Book Award (2020), Ursula Gielen Book Award (APA, 2020), and the Katzell Award (SIOP, 2020)

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers - Out now!

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



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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