Michele J. Gelfand - Rule Makers, Rule Breakers - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9781472139238
    • Publication date:04 Oct 2018
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    • ISBN:9781405541756
    • Publication date:04 Oct 2018

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers

How Culture Wires Our Minds, Shapes Our Nations, and Drives Our Differences

By Michele J. Gelfand

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A ground-breaking new popular psychology book revealing the cultural factors that link us all, with practical applications for business, politics and everyday social interactions.

'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

Biographical Notes

Michele Gelfand is a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her pioneering research into cultural norms, conducted in over fifty countries, has been cited more than 22,000 times in the media, including in The Washington Post and Scientific American, and on NPR. The recipient of numerous awards, she is a past president of the International Association for Conflict Management.

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  • ISBN: 9781472139221
  • Publication date: 04 Oct 2018
  • Page count:
  • Imprint: Robinson
'A groundbreaking analysis of what used to be an impenetrable mystery: how and why do cultures differ? Gelfand shows that a wide range of divides of class, culture, and coalition are traceable to an intriguing source. 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
Endlessly impressive . . . In figuring out what causes various tribes and factions to clash and sometime come to blows - whether at the U.N. or in a stadium's upper deck - Gelfand has left no cultural stone unturned. To read this book is to see both yourself and your neighbour for the first time - guided by rules of which you've both been unaware — Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
'Remarkable. Not just an enlightening book but a game-changing one. By uncovering the inner workings of tight and loose cultures, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers suddenly makes sense of the puzzling behavior we see all around us-in colleagues, family, and even ourselves' - Carol Dweck, bestselling author of Mindset
'A brilliant and timely book . . . Michele Gelfand has exposed a universal fault line running beneath nations, states, organizations, and even families. Cultures that face threat and uncertainty seek order and precision. Cultures with firmer footings revel in ambiguity and risk taking. This idea, at once so simple and so powerful, will forever change how you see the world' - Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of When and Drive
'Completely fascinating . . .[Gelfand] reveals how political divides, happiness and suicide rates, and the coexistence of crime and creativity can all be traced to a fundamental but neglected dimension of social norms. You'll never look at a workplace, a country, or a family the same way again' - Adam Grant, bestselling author of Originals, Give and Take and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg

"This brilliant book is full of well-documented insights that will change the way you look at yourself and at the world around you. Gelfand presents a wealth of scientific evidence with a light touch that has the reader eager to know what comes next. I can't think of anyone who won't learn something important from this book."
- Barry Schwartz, bestselling author of The Paradox of Choice, Practical Wisdom, and Why We Work

'Despite their great importance, the hidden factors that influence whether people comply with what is expected of them or write their own script has long gone underappreciated. With this book, Michele Gelfand has done much to unravel the mysteries of human motivation. Anyone interested in how social norms-and, therefore, people-operate will be grateful for her compelling analysis' - Robert Cialdini, bestselling author of Influence and Pre-Suasion
'A fascinating and profound book by one of psychology's most creative researchers. The well-chosen facts and findings about different cultures will make you alternately laugh, nod, and moan-and make you eager to read more. Beautifully written, packed with scientific facts and findings, this important book celebrates and explains the diversity of human culture. It emphasizes a key dimension of cultural difference: Some cultures pressure everyone to follow the same rules, while almost anything goes in other cultures-and Gelfand carefully and impressively lays out the pluses and minuses of both types. Anyone interested in the deep mysteries of human life and cultural diversity will find this book a rich source of information and a thought-provoking challenge to common assumptions. 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
'A delightful, insightful and fascinating look at the remarkable diversity of human customs - where they come from and how they shape our lives' - Daniel Gilbert, bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
'A fantastic book, academically anchored yet also fun to read and filled with practical implications. Its beauty derives from the breadth of its insight as Gelfand focuses in to illuminate, in succession, countries, states, corporations, groups and individuals. How many books pull off the feat of connecting clocks on city streets, to merger and acquisition outcomes, to groups that can both execute and explore? What an achievement!' - Michael L. Tushman, co-author of Winning Through Innovation and Lead and Disrupt
'Why do some countries enjoy internal peace, effective governance, and productive economies, while others are dysfunctional and impoverished? In this dazzling book the cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand shows that a large part of the answer lies with social norms - rules of behavior that enable coordination and cooperation in large-scale societies. When people don't abide by socially expected rules, families, businesses, and whole societies splinter apart. But is there a downside to following the rules too closely? Read Rule Makers, Rule Breakers to find out' - Peter Turchin, author of Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth
'Is your world tight, or is it loose? In this smart, provocative, and very entertaining book, Michele Gelfand argues that the tendency to devise and abide by rules, or, alternatively, push behavioral limits is the fundamental distinction between human societies, capturing what really matters in summing up the difference between Germany and Brazil, or Mississippi and California, or rich and poor. Whether the arena is large or small-a superpower summit, a boardroom meeting, or a backyard barbecue - this insightful and stimulating work will help you better understand yourself and those around you' - Paul Bloom, professor of psychology, Yale University, author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
'Every decade, it seems, someone identifies a pattern that makes sense of a range of disparate social phenomena. Rule Makers, Rule Breakers is that rare book that gives order to our troubled world, explaining the mystifying divides that increasingly inform politics, business, education, and society in general. If you're going to read one book this year to better understand the world's problems and what can be done to solve them, Gelfand's masterpiece should be it' - Alon Tal, author of The Land Is Full and founder of the Israeli Union for Environmental Defense
'I devoured Michele Gelfand's new book. This is not just a lively page-turner about some of the most important and intractable issues of the day but a must-read book that will fundamentally change the way you look at the world, particularly at our bewildering cultural moment, moving you past the simplistic, media-driven binaries of globalist-nationalist, red state-blue state, and rural-urban. You will emerge a smarter, broader person, with a deeper, more informed perspective for thinking and talking about the issues that consume us all' - Todd Kliman, Winner of the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award and author of The Wild Vine
'A thought-provoking look at the contours of modern tribalism - one that uses a deceptively simple dividing line: the split between 'tight' and 'loose' cultures and personalities. By examining everything from communal norms to socio-economic differences, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers will make you see differently the people, places and organizations you think you know, including yourself' - Dante Chinni, co-author of The Patchwork Nation and Director of the American Communities Project at George Washington University
'Gelfand shows through clever psychological experiments and sagacious readings of history that the world's societies have generally tended to cluster around tight norms that favor authority and frown on deviance (as with ancient Sparta, Pakistan and Germany) versus loose norms that allow and even encourage people to bend the rules (as with the Inuit of the Central Arctic, Brazil and the United States). She offers a particularly timely analysis for our current Age of Anxiety and uncertainty, where people and nations no longer feel confident in what the next generation and near future will bring (hence an increasing but impractical nostalgia for a mythic past as the guide for tomorrow)' - Scott Atran, co-founder of the Center for the Resolution of Intractable Conflicts at Oxford University, and Research Director in Anthropology at the French National Center for Scientific Research
'Rule Makers, Rule Breakers is that wonderful combination of fascinating theory, well expounded with plenty of examples... a compelling, absorbing and timely read.' - The Psychologist
'An extremely important book. Gelfand has identified and explored a hugely significant aspect of culture that accounts for why and when we fall into step with a group, or alternatively, set off on our own path-either to our advantage or our detriment. Moreover, she has accumulated fascinating evidence that explains why no subset of the human population, from the nation state to individual, exists outside the sway of this dynamic' - Richard Nisbett, author of The Geography of Thought: How Westerners and Asians Think Differently...and Why
'In this brilliant book, Michele Gelfand unveils how cultures - of all sizes, down to small groups - are shaped by ecological and human threats. In particular, her findings, which are backed by massive empirical evidence, go far to explain why the people of different countries have different worldviews. After reading this, you won't see the world in the same way' - Ronald F. Inglehart, Director of the World Values Survey and author of Cultural Evolution
'In an ever-shrinking world, understanding and negotiating cultural differences has become essential to daily life and the fate of nations alike. In Rule Makers, Rule Breakers, Gelfand presents a valuable lens for decoding the nature of our cultural conflicts and an intriguing new tool for solving them' - Colin Woodard, Winner of the George Polk Award, Pulitzer finalist, and author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America
'In this tour-de-force, psychologist Michele Gelfand take us on a fascinating cross-cultural adventure. Human norms are as varied as bird plumage in the Galapagos, and Gelfand unveils one of the key phenomena accounting for the diversity. Tightness-looseness explains everything from how you cross the street to how you cross over from the living. Never a dull moment in this enthusiastic journey' - Susan T. Fiske, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University and coauthor of The Human Brand
'Offers a powerful new way of seeing the world. Gelfand's deceptively simple thesis becomes increasingly compelling as her research unfolds across politics, class and organizational behavior. Best of all, she provides a new toolkit for change' - Anne Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America, former director of Policy Planning for the State Department, and author of Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
'Fascinating and illuminating . . . Rule Makers, Rule Breakers sheds light on everything from why we embrace new ideas to how culture makes us who we are. We all build order into our days, but as Gelfand shows, some of us like hewing to a line, and others enjoy crossing it' - Jonah Berger, bestselling author of Contagious and Invisible Influence
'Visionary and wildly entertaining . . . Michele Gelfand pulls a very big rabbit out of a very small hat. The distinction between 'tight' and 'loose' cultures may sound familiar, but this way of carving up the social world is surprising powerful, delivering insights for educators, CEOs, politicians, revolutionaries, scientists and curious people-watchers. This brilliant book will sharpen your vision and broaden your horizons' - Joshua Greene, director of the Moral Cognition Laboratory at Harvard University and author Moral Tribes
'Everyone should read this book! It is rare that one overarching principle can explain so much, but Michele Gelfand nails it with her brilliant analysis of how tightly or loosely people adhere to social norms. In a fascinating narrative full of entertaining examples, she illuminates and explains this distinction, and by so doing increases our understanding of cultural conflict, the partisan divide, organizational success, happiness, creativity and much more' - Timothy D. Wilson, author of Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By
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