In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Michele Gelfand about the difference between tight and loose cultures. They discuss the primacy of cultural norms in governing human behavior, the trade-offs between order and freedom, conservatism vs liberalism, sensitivity to threat, scarcity, the COVID pandemic, the Jeffrey Toobin affair, political polarization, the problem of extreme stereotypes, and other topics.
Michele Gelfand is a Distinguished University Professor of Psychology 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, Psychological Science, and the Journal of Applied Psychology. Gelfand is the founding co-editor of the Advances in Culture and Psychology series (Oxford University Press). Her book Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World was published by Scribner in 2018. She is the past President of the International Association for Conflict Management and co-founder of the Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution. Gelfand was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019.