A cultural psychologist and professor makes the case that much of the diversity in the way we think and act derives from a key difference—how tightly or loosely we adhere to social norms, which itself is often highly influenced by the perception of threat.
While the many research studies sometimes seem repetitive when belaboring the same points, the interspersed real-life examples from around the world are more engaging because of how Gelfand connects them back to study findings ... Of the many books about cultural anthropology or social theory emerging these days, few manage to cohere to a strong, compelling thesis throughout ... Fewer still manage to address all the major concerns of our increasingly complex societies today. Gelfand has checked both those boxes and she has done it with just the right number...of supporting practical, pragmatic examples ... engaging with this book is time well invested[.]
Although Gelfand can occasionally come across as too much of a salesperson for her big idea, she’s generally an engaging writer with real intellectual range. She sparkles most when diving into evolutionary anthropology to make sense of long-term patterns in cultural tightness and looseness ... This is interesting stuff ... The problem is that...Gelfand routinely ignores materialist explanations for the various phenomena she considers ... She writes as though the hoarding of resources and opportunities by the wealthy was not a huge part of the story. The fact of the matter is that the very best research done today by social scientists straddles the culturalist-materialist divide ... Rule Makers, Rule Breakers could have benefited from some of the same balance and nuance.
In these brightly written, sometimes repetitive pages, the author explains how norms and their enforcement can help us better understand organizations and households as well as nations ... Gelfand offers many intriguing observations ... A useful and engaging take on human behavior.