Tight or Loose? The Key to Unlocking Our Cultural Divisions; a book talk with Michele Gelfand

Event Date: Tuesday November 28, 2017
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Location: Hauser Hall, Room 102, Harvard Law School Campus, Cambridge, MA

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School is pleased to present:

Tight or Loose?
The Key to Unlocking Our Cultural Divisions

A book talk with

Michele Gelfand

Professor of Psychology and Distinguished University Professor
University of Maryland, College Park


Tuesday, November 28, 2017
12:00 – 1:00 pm
Hauser Hall, Room 102
Harvard Law School Campus

Free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided.

About the Talk:

Over the past century, we have explored the solar system, split the atom, and wired the earth, but somehow, despite all of our technical prowess, we have struggled to understand something far more important: our own cultural differences. Observing the wide variety of cultural permutations, people assumed for centuries that there were as many explanations for these permutations and rifts as there were examples of them. Michele Gelfand’s research shows that many cultural differences reflect a simple, but often invisible distinction: The strength of social norms. Tight cultures have strong social norms and little tolerance for deviance, while loose cultures have weak social norms and are highly permissive. The tightness or looseness of social norms turns out to be a Rosetta Stone for human groups. It illuminates similar patterns of difference across nations, states, organizations, social class, and households. It is also a global fault line: many of the conflicts we encounter spring from the structural stress of tight-loose tension. By unmasking culture to reveal tight-loose dynamics, we can see fresh patterns in history, illuminate some of today’s most puzzling trends and events, and see our own behavior in a new light. At a time of intense political conflict and rapid social change, this template shows us that there is indeed a method to the madness, and that moderation – not tight or loose extremes – has never been more needed.

About the Speaker:

Michele Gelfand is Professor of Psychology and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Gelfand uses field, experimental, computational and neuroscience methods to understand the evolution of culture and its multilevel consequences. Her work has been published in outlets such as Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Psychological Science, Nature Scientific Reports, PLOS 1, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Research in Organizational Behavior, Journal of Applied Psychology, Annual Review of Psychology, American Psychologist, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, among others. Gelfand is the founding co-editor of the Advances in Culture and Psychology annual series and Frontiers of Culture and Psychology series (with CY Chiu and Ying-Yi Hong, Oxford University Press). She is the Past President of the International Association for Conflict Management, Past Division Chair of the Conflict Division of the Academy of Management, and Past Treasurer of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. She received the 2016 Diener Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, which honors a scholar who has made major contributions to social psychology, and she received the Annaliese Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which was given to seven scientists worldwide for outstanding contributions in their fields. Her work that was published in Science was honored with the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Her website is www.gelfand.umd.edu.

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