Michele J. Gelfand

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Michele J. Gelfand is a cultural psychologist, best known for being an expert on tightness-looseness theory,[1] which explains variations in the strength of social norms and punishments across human groups.[2] She is currently a Distinguished University Professor[3] at the University of Maryland, College Park.[4]

Education and career[edit]

Gelfand studied at Colgate University, where she graduated with a B.A. in psychology in 1989. She graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1996 with a PhD in social psychology and organizational psychology.[5] There, she studied under the mentorship of Harry Triandis, one of the founders of cross-cultural psychology.[6] She was on the faculty of New York University from 1995 to 1996, and she has worked at the University of Maryland, College Park since 1996.[5]

Gelfand is the editor of several academic books and series, including Advances in Culture and Psychology, which she co-founded; Psychology of Conflict and Conflict Management in Organizations; and The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture.[7] She was the president of the International Association for Conflict Management from 2009 to 2010.[5][8]


Gelfand has conducted research across many cultures, using field, experimental, computational, and neuroscientific methods to understand the evolution of cultural differences and their consequences for individuals, teams, organizations, and nations.[9][10] Gelfand has also done work on the role of culture in negotiation and conflict and the psychology of revenge and forgiveness.[11][12][13]

Cultural tightness-looseness[edit]

Gelfand is considered a pioneering researcher on the concept of tightness-looseness.[1] She is credited with defining the tightness-looseness classification system, which assesses how much a culture adheres to social norms and tolerates deviance. Tight cultures are more restrictive, with stricter disciplinary measures for norm violations while loose cultures have weaker social norms and a higher tolerance for deviant behavior. Gelfand found that a history of threats, such as natural disasters, high population density, or vulnerability to infectious diseases, is associated with greater tightness. Her research has shown that tightness allows cultures to coordinate more effectively to survive threats.[2][14] This work is summarized in the book, titled, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World (2018).[15]

Awards and honors[edit]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b White, Lawrence T.; Jackson, Steven (2013-07-21). "Some Like It Tight, Some Like It Loose". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  2. ^ a b Gelfand, Michele J.; Raver, Jana L.; Nishii, Lisa; Leslie, Lisa M.; Lun, Janetta; Lim, Beng Chong; et al. (2011-05-27). "Differences Between Tight and Loose Cultures: A 33-Nation Study". Science. 332 (6033): 1100–1104. Bibcode:2011Sci...332.1100G. doi:10.1126/science.1197754. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 21617077. 
  3. ^ "Distinguished University Professors". University of Maryland Faculty Affairs. Retrieved 2018-06-06. 
  4. ^ "Michele J. Gelfand". University of Maryland Department of Psychology. Retrieved 2016-05-31. 
  5. ^ a b c "Michele J. Gelfand Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). University of Maryland Department of Psychology. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  6. ^ Gelfand, Michele J. (March 2013). "Multinational collaborations in culture and psychology". Psychology International. American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  7. ^ "American Regionalism". The Academic Minute. WAMC Northeast Public Radio. 2014-11-04. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  8. ^ "24th Annual Conference of the International Association for Conflict Management". Association Française d'Economie Expérimentale. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  9. ^ "Research: Culture and Psychology". Michele F. Gelfand. University of Maryland Department of Psychology. Retrieved 2016-06-02. 
  10. ^ Gelfand, M. J.; Erez, M.; Aycan, Z. (2007). "Cross-cultural organizational behavior" (PDF). Annual Review of Psychology. 58: 479–514. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.58.110405.085559. PMID 17044797. Retrieved 2016-06-06. 
  11. ^ Gelfand, M. J.; Leslie, L.; Keller, K.; De Dreu, C. (2012). "Conflict cultures in organizations: How leaders shape conflict cultures and their organization-level consequences" (PDF). Journal of Applied Psychology. 97 (6): 1131. doi:10.1037/a0029993. PMID 23025807. Retrieved 2016-06-06. 
  12. ^ Gelfand, M. J.; Severance, L.; Lee, T.; Bruss, C. B.; et al. (2015). "Getting to Yes: The linguistic signature of the deal in the U.S. and Egypt". Journal of Organizational Behavior. 36 (7): 967. doi:10.1002/job.2026. 
  13. ^ Zheng, Xue; Fehr, Ryan; Tai, Kenneth; Narayanan, Jayanth; Gelfand, Michele J. (2014). "The Unburdening Effects of Forgiveness: Effects on Slant Perception and Jumping Height" (PDF). Social Psychological and Personality Science. University of California, Davis. 
  14. ^ Harrington, Jesse R.; Gelfand, Michele J. (2014). "Tightness–looseness across the 50 united states" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111: 7990–7995. doi:10.1073/pnas.1317937111. PMC 4050535Freely accessible. 
  15. ^ ISBN 9781501152931
  16. ^ "Outstanding International Psychologist Awards, Past Recipients". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2018-06-06. 
  17. ^ "Diener Award in Social Psychology, Past Recipients". Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  18. ^ "William A. Owens Scholarly Achievement Award, Past Recipients". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  19. ^ "Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize Winners" (PDF). Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  20. ^ "Gelfand Receives Anneliese Maier Research Award". Association for Psychological Science. 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2016-06-02. 
  21. ^ "CMD Sponsored Awards". Academy of Management, Conflict Management Division. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  22. ^ "Distinguished Scholar Teacher Recipients". University of Maryland Office of Faculty Affairs. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  23. ^ "IACM Outstanding Article or Book Chapter Award Recipients". International Association of Conflict Management. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  24. ^ "Cummings Scholarly Achievement Award, Past Award Winners". Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  25. ^ "Past SIOP Award Recipients". Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 

External links[edit]