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Q&A: Balancing Act

Psychologist Michele Gelfand Explains the Dangers of Cultures That Are Too “Tight” or “Loose”

By Maryland Today Staff

Tight and Loose Cultures

Illustration by Jason Keisling

Illustration by Jason Keisling

UMD psychology Professor Michele Gelfand’s new book, “Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World,” was released yesterday and examines how human behavior changes with how strictly societies adhere to social norms.

After two decades of research spanning more than 50 countries, Gelfand is an expert on how the strength of these norms and tolerance of deviant behavior in countries and U.S. states can connect with tough criminal punishment practices, high rates of ecological threat and prevalence of disease.

She recently spoke to Scientific American about her book and how a country’s threat vulnerabilities can lead, oddly enough, to its clocks being wrong.

Click here to read the interview.



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