Apparently, there’s no need for Israel to loosen up. So say the results of a psychological and cultural study published on May 27 in the journal Science looking closely at 33 different countries in an effort to better understand cultural differences, and consequently foster better cross-cultural communication and cooperation.
A large international team of scientists led by Michele J. Gelfand, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, considered the “tightness” and “looseness” of various countries and their cultures. “Tight” national cultures have many strong norms and a low tolerance of deviant behavior, and “loose” ones have weak social norms and a high tolerance of deviant behavior. In determining where nations stood on the tight-loose continuum, the researchers considered factors such as ecological and historical threats, broad versus narrow socialization in societal institutions like government and media, the strength of everyday recurring situations, and micro-level psychological affordances such as regulatory strength and the need for structure.
Of the 33 countries for which data was collected, Pakistan was found to be the tightest, and Ukraine the loosest. The results for many countries were not surprising, Gelfand said in an interview for PRI’s The World. Japan, for instance, predictably turned out to be rather tight.