Michele J. Gelfand, University of MarylandFollow
Jana L. Raver, Queen's University - Kingston, OntarioFollow
Lisa Hisae Nishii, Cornell UniversityFollow
Lisa M. Leslie, University of MinnesotaFollow
Janetta Lun, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Beng Chong Lim, McKinsey & CompanyFollow
Lili Duan, BIP Institute of Psychology
Assaf Almaliach, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Soon Ang
Jakobina Arnadottir, Kaplaskjolsvegur
Zeynep Aycan, Koc University
Klaus Boehnke, Universitat Bremen
Pawel Boski, Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Rosa Cabecinas, University of Minho
Darius Chan, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Jagdeep Chhokar, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
Alessa D'Amato, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru
Montse Ferrer, University of Valencia
Iris C. Fischlmayr, Johannes Kepler University of Linz
Ronald Fischer, Victoria University of Wellington
Marta Fulup, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
James Georgas, University of Athens
Emiko S. Kashima, La Trobe University
Yoshishima Kashima, Psychological Sciences University of Melbourne
Kibum Kim, Sungkyunkwan University
Alain Lempereur, ESSEC Business School
Patricia Marquez, University of San Diego
Rozhan Othman
Bert Overlaet, KU Leuven
Penny Panagiotopoulou, University of Patras
Karl Peltzer, Human Sciences Research Council
Lorena R. Perez-Florizno, Investigadora Colegio de la Fontera Norte
Larisa Ponomarenko, Odessa National University
Anu Realo, University of Tartu
Vidar Schei, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration
Manfred Schmitt, Universitat Koblenz - Landau
Peter B. Smith, University of Sussex
Nazar Soomro, University of Sindh
Erna Szabo
Nalinee Taveesin
Midori Toyama, Gakushuin UniversityFollow
Evert Van de Vliert, University of Gronin
Naharika Vohra, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
Colleen Ward, Victoria University of Wellington
Susumu Yamaguchi, University of Tokyo

Publication Date



With data from 33 nations, we illustrate the differences between cultures that are tight (have many strong norms and a low tolerance of deviant behavior) versus loose (have weak social norms and a high tolerance of deviant behavior). Tightness-looseness is part of a complex, loosely integrated multilevel system that comprises distal ecological and historical threats (e.g., high population density, resource scarcity, a history of territorial conflict, and disease and environmental threats), broad versus narrow socialization in societal institutions (e.g., autocracy, media regulations), the strength of everyday recurring situations, and micro-level psychological affordances (e.g., prevention self-guides, high regulatory strength, need for structure). This research advances knowledge that can foster cross-cultural understanding in a world of increasing global interdependence and has implications for modeling cultural change.


Required Publisher Statement
© American Association for the Advancement of Science. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Final version published as: Gelfand, M. J., Raver, J. L., Nishii, L. H., Leslie, L. M., Lun, J., Lim, B. C., Duan, L., … Yamaguchi, S. (2011). Differences between tight and loose cultures: A 33-nation study [Electronic version]. Science, 332(6033), 1100-1104. doi: 10.1126/science.1197754

Suggested Citation
Gelfand, M. J., Raver, J. L., Nishii, L. H., Leslie, L. M., Lun, J., Lim, B. C., Duan, L., … Yamaguchi, S. (2011). Differences between tight and loose cultures: A 33-nation study [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

*This paper was the winner of the Most Influential Paper Award for 2017, awarded by the Conflict Management Division of the Academy of Management.

*This paper was the winner of the 2012 Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, awarded by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI).