Michele Gelfand: The Secret Life of Social Norms

Michele Gelfand: The Secret Life of Social Norms


Cross-cultural psychologist and best-selling author, Michele Gelfand, explores the science behind social norms.

In this insightful TEDxPaloAltoSalon talk, Michele discusses the concept of social norms and defines culture as either tight, craving order, or loose, craving openness. She delves into real-life examples of the many ways these culture types wire our world, and defines success as when we are “ambidextrous,” deploying both and avoiding the extremes.

Distinguished Psychology Professor Michele Gelfand is one of the leading researchers and writers on culture and the impact of culture on behavior. She’s the author of the wildly-popular new book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. Gelfand’s research and writing focuses on the difference between “tight” and “loose” cultures, and how that distinction impacts businesses globally. Arguing that culture drives performance more than mission statements, HR campaigns, or even financial incentives ever will, she helps organizations understand if their culture is “tight” or “loose,” why that is, how that drives everything from performance to revenue to position in the marketplace, and how to create a more “open” or “loose” culture. Gelfand’s work on tight-loose theory and its impact on business performance has been cited over 20,000 times and has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Morning Joe, Voice of America, Fox News, NBC News, ABC News, The Economist, De Standard, and more.

After you watch the video above, visit Michele’s speaker profile page to learn more about her speaking topics and expertise, and to see if she would be a good fit to speak at one of your upcoming events.

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Cultural Psychologist, Author, & Distinguished University Professor

  • Local: $20,001 - $35,000*
  • US East: $20,001 - $35,000*
  • US West: $35,001 - $55,000*
  • Europe: $55,001 - $75,000*
  • Asia: $75,001 and up*
Michele Gelfand is 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 for human groups. Her work has been cited over 20,000 times and has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Voice of America, Fox News, NBC News, ABC News, and The Economist, among other outlets. Most recently, she is the author of "Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World"