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Popular Press

Popular press articles by Dr. Michele J. Gelfand

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January 6, 2023

How Threatening are Threats

Project Syndicate

While threat-related language naturally becomes more pervasive during wars and natural disasters, it can also spread as a result of misinformation campaigns, “engagement” algorithms, and social contagion effects. Improving our understanding of the threat environment thus has become an urgent imperative.

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August 23, 2021

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

Behavioral Scientist

An important lesson from the pandemic comes from a surprising source: the dodo, a flightless bird that went extinct four centuries ago.

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July/August 2021

The Threat Reflex

Foreign Affairs

Why Some Societies Respond to Danger Better Than Others

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February 1, 2021

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

The Guardian

Our research shows how ‘tighter’ societies do better – and how the rest must learn to adapt in order to defeat the pandemic

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June 4, 2020

Why some people wear masks but others don’t: A look at the psychology


Reopening the economy has often been framed as a partisan issue in the US. But within households, many families are having their own arguments about how lax or strict they should be about the threat of the virus.

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May 27, 2020

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

The Conversation

Different mindsets about rules can lead to different behaviors.

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March 28, 2020

America's cultural weapon against COVID-19

The Hill

In the fight against coronavirus, we need every advantage. America’s scientific expertise is second to none, but are U.S. cultural attitudes and tendencies our achilles heel?

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March 13, 2020

To survive the coronavirus, the United States must tighten up

Boston Globe

It’s not just about medicine. It’s about culture.

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January 7, 2020

The dark side of supportive relationships

The Conversation

Your partner’s intentions might be good, but the outcome often isn’t.

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January 2, 2020

Authoritarian leaders thrive on fear. We need to help people feel safe

The Guardian

Across the world, voters are falling prey to leaders who appeal to their worst instincts. Why?

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October 25, 2019

Opinion: Can the diaries of ordinary people be used to bridge cultural divides?

Los Angeles Times

Words that carry weight: In a University of Maryland study, Pakistanis and Americans who read diaries from the others’ culture often came away with a more positive and tolerant perspective.

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September 25, 2019

Could climate change fuel the rise of right-wing nationalism?

The Conversation

When people feel threatened, they’re more receptive to politicians who espouse xenophobic rhetoric.

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September 16, 2019

Opinion: The science behind how Trump turns our unfounded fears into a potent political weapon

Los Angeles Times

Extremely rare but vivid threats often loom large in the human mind.

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September 9, 2019

Understanding Cultural Differences Around Social Norms

Behavioral Scientist

Dr. Gelfand answers reader questions in Behavioral Scientist's "Ask a Behavioral Scientist" series

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June 10, 2019

This is how Tesla can improve its company culture

Fast Company

This psychology professor and her research team argues that it’s not about remaking the company, but introducing structure without compromising on Tesla’s commitment to innovate.

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May 12, 2019

Who was behind Sri Lanka's Easter Terrorist Attacks?

National Interest

While the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, the real story is a bit more complicated than that.

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April 2, 2019

Women Don't Just Face a Pay Gap at Work. They're Also Punished Far More Than Men


On Equal Pay Day, we rightly focus on how a woman would have to work over three months more in order to make what her male counterpart did last year for the same full time work — a gender pay gap that amounts to about $900 billion in annual lost earnings for women holding full-time jobs. But inequities in the workplace go far beyond wage disparity.

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January 28, 2019

Culture as the menacing force behind today’s crazy politics

The Economist

A book excerpt and interview with Michele Gelfand, an author and psychologist at the University of Maryland

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January 28, 2019

Tight or Loose: How Culture Impacts Everything, Even Your Job


According to a new book by cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand, “Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World,” much of the diversity in the way we think and act derives from a key difference—how tightly or loosely we adhere to social norms. Looking a countries, states, cities, workplaces and even families, Gelfand shows how tight and loose cultures shape our entire lives, and play a big role in the decisions we make around where we live, what company we work for and how we approach others.

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December 27, 2018

A Big-Picture Look at Social Rules

Psychology Today

Research on how people make and break rules can help us understand each other.

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