Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: Tight and Loose Cultures and the Secret Signals That Direct Our Lives
'A groundbreaking analysis of what used to be an impenetrable mystery: how and why do cultures differ? ... Anyone interested in our cultural divides will find tremendous insight in Rule Makers, Rule Breakers' - Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now
Why are clocks in Germany always correct, while those in Brazil are frequently wrong? Why are Singaporeans jailed for selling gum? Why do women in New Zealand have three times the sex of females worldwide? Why was the Daimler-Chrysler merger ill-fated from the start? And why does each generation of Americans give their kids weirder and weirder names?
Curious about the answers to these and other questions, award-winning social psychologist Michele Gelfand has spent two decades studying both tight societies (with clearly stated rules and codes of ethics) and loose societies (more informal communities with weak or ambiguous norms). Putting each under the microscope, she conducted research in more than fifty countries and collaborated with political scientists, neuroscientists, computer scientists, anthropologists, and archaeologists. Her fascinating conclusion: behaviour seems largely dependent on perceived threats. It's why certain nations seem predisposed to tangle with others; some American states identify as "Red" and others as "Blue"; and those attending a sports contest, health club, or school function behave in prescribed ways.
Rule Makers, Rule Breakers reveals how to predict national variations around the globe, why some leaders innovate and others don't, and even how a tight vs. loose system can determine happiness. Consistently riveting and always illuminating, Michele Gelfand's book helps us understand how a single cultural trait dramatically affects even the smallest aspects of our lives.
'Fascinating and profound...It's quite possibly this year's best book on culture' - Roy F. Baumeister, bestselling co-author of Willpower and author of The Cultural Animal
'This brilliant book is full of well-documented insights that will change the way you look at yourself and at the world around you' - Barry Schwartz, bestselling author of The Paradox of Choice, Practical Wisdom, and Why We Work