Michele Gelfand is a cross-cultural psychologist renowned for her work on social norms, negotiation, conflict, revenge, forgiveness, and diversity. She is known for developing tightness-looseness theory, which describes the strength of social norms across cultures in modern nations, states, and non-industrial societies, their evolutionary origins, and their multi-level consequences. Gelfand is a native New Yorker and received her bachelor’s degree from Colgate University. She earned her Ph.D. in social/organizational psychology from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1996 under the guidance of Harry Triandis. She was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park from 1996 to 2021, and is now the John Scully Professor of Cross-Cultural Management and Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Professor of Psychology by Courtesy. Gelfand is the past President of the International Association for Conflict Management, Past Division Chair of the Conflict Management Division of the Academy of Management, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Interests

Michele Gelfand's interdisciplinary culture laboratory studies the strength of cultural norms, negotiation, conflict, revenge, forgiveness, and diversity. Her early work focused on the distinction of vertical and horizontal individualism and collectivism. Her recent work examines the strength of norms across cultures, or what is referred to as cultural tightness-looseness (TL). Tight cultures have strict rules and punishments for deviance, whereas loose groups have weaker rules and more permissiveness. Gelfand's lab studies the ecological and historical factors that promote TL at the national and state levels and in non-industrial societies, the neurobiological underpinnings of TL, and the implications of TL for organizations, expatriates, and for societal well-being. Gelfand also explores the way that individuals and groups manage conflict, how conflicts spread across networks, and the different processes through which successful negotiation agreements are attained within and across cultures. Her lab's work examines universal and culture specificity in the etiology and consequences of revenge and forgiveness, as well as the cultural psychology of terrorism. Gelfand also focus on empowerment in negotiation, and explores how stigmatized individuals can get to the negotiation table and achieve high quality outcomes.

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Primary Section

Section 52: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 53: Social and Political Sciences