While much of our cross-cultural understanding is based on Hofstede’s value dimensions, there are alternative ways of categorizing national culture. Leading cross-cultural psychologists have developed the idea of defining culture based on normative behaviors. The concept of cultural “tightness” and “looseness” is used to explain how the strength of adherence to social norms can vary across cultural contexts (Gelfand et al., 2011). In a 25 collaborative country study, tolerance of deviation from social norms was tested through extensive field observation and experimentation. The unique nature of the methods used in this study will be discussed as well as preliminary results in relation to identifying key cross-cultural variations in human behavior in “tight” versus “loose” cultures. The relevancy of this research to the larger field of cross-cultural understanding and ways of defining similarity and difference among cultures will also be discussed.
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