Michele Gelfand

Psychology Professor, University of Maryland; Visiting Scholar, Harvard University's Belfer Center

Michele Gelfand is a joint visiting scholar at the Belfer Center's Middle East Initiative and the Center for Public Leadership, and professor of psychology and affiliate of the RH Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. There she leads a diverse group of scholars within the Social Decision Making and Organizational Science area. Under her direction, this group studies phenomenon relating to the strength of cultural norms and cultural values, negotiation, conflict, revenge, forgiveness and diversity. More recently, Michele has branched into the study of subjective culture in the Middle East and has founded a growing research program on tightness-looseness in cultures. Michele strives to incorporate many disciplinary perspectives in her work, collaborating with computer scientists, neuroscientists, political scientists and increasingly biologists to understand all things cultural. Michele recently launched a new society for the study of cultural evolution ( and published a special issue on culture and psychological science in Current Opinion ( During her time in residence at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2016-2017, Michele plans to work on her new book entitled The Secret Lives of Social Norms: How Culture Shapes Our Nations, Neurons, and Everything In Between (Scribner) and continue her research on new models of negotiation in the Middle East and the dynamics of culture change. She welcomes conversations with faculty interested in culture, negotiation, leadership and decision-making. See her website at

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