My Conversation with Michele Gelfand

Here is the audio and transcript, and here is the summary:

Michele Gelfand is professor of psychology at the University of Maryland and author of the just-released Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. In her conversation with Tyler, Michele unpacks the concept of tight and loose cultures and more, including which variable best explains tightness, the problem with norms, whether Silicon Valley has an honor culture, the importance of theory and history in guiding research, what Donald Trump gets wrong about negotiation, why MBAs underrate management, the need to develop cultural IQ, and why mentorship should last a lifetime.

Here is one excerpt:

COWEN: As you know, it’s a common distinction in cross-cultural analysis to call some cultures individualistic and others collectivistic. How does tightness and looseness differ from that distinction? What do you pick up that, say, the work of Triandis does not?

GELFAND: Actually, Triandis is my mentor. I went to Champaign to work with him. I did a lot of research on collectivism and individualism. For a long time, that was the one dimension that we looked at in cross-cultural psychology.

It’s almost akin to, in personality psychology, only studying extroversion to the neglect of other dimensions, like neuroticism. In cross-cultural psychology, we got a little bit narrow in what we were studying. Collectivism-individualism is related to tightness but distinct.

Part of the problem we’ve had is, we’ve confounded cultures in our research. We’ve been studying East Asia, which is both tight and collectivistic, with the United States and other Western cultures, which tend to be loose and individualistic. So they have been confounded.

But when you think about the off-diagonals of that two-by-two, you can imagine cultures like Germany, Switzerland, Austria that tend to be pretty individualistic. They emphasize privacy. They’re not hugely group and family oriented, but they’re relatively tight. They have strong rules and punishments for deviance.

On the flip side, you can think about Latin American cultures — in our data, that’s Brazil or Spain — that tend to be pretty family oriented and pretty collectivistic, but they’re rather loose.

In a lot of ways, you can disentangle that variation, even if they’re related. They tend to be related about 0.4. That’s found both in modern nations and also traditional societies. At the state level, they also tend to be related but again distinct. Only in that case, it’s about 0.2 or 0.3, the correlation between tightness and collectivism.


COWEN: Overrated or underrated, Staten Island?

GELFAND: [laughs] I would say probably underrated. That’s because I actually am familiar with Staten Island. We have relatives that live there. It’s probably the last undiscovered place around the city. Brooklyn has become a chichi place to live, but Staten Island has not. There’s great delis there. I’ve spent some time there.


COWEN: Putting aside your political views, but just if you observe Donald Trump as a negotiator — as a psychologist, what strikes you?

GELFAND: Donald Trump has a very classic negotiation style. It’s a distributive negotiation style. It’s a win-lose style. It works in certain contexts, especially contexts where there’s one issue or when there’s very little expected future interaction.

What Donald Trump does is, he takes that style to international [laughs] politics where these contexts, the structure of these situations is very different. There’s usually many issues at the table. There’s expected future interaction…His style is really mismatched with the context that he’s in.

Many of the best parts are at or near the end, so do read or listen all the way through.  And you can buy Michele’s book here.


"His style is really mismatched..." says an academic with no experience as a top level politician or negotiator.

"And somehow he's winning, which really pisses me off," she thought but failed to add.

Then somebody pointed out the glowing success of North Korea, and talk of a Nobel Peace Prize again filled the air.

Most recent news from NK is that Kim wants deal done. Good news. The Peace prize has been so cheapened, this process has well beyond that.

'is that Kim wants deal done'

Sure - just like Kim was able to get the President of the U.S. to treat him as an equal, without North Korea needing to meet any conditions at all.

'Good news.'

Well, if you favor Kim, sure.

A salesman offers friendship first, and applies pressure later. If you treat a guy like trash from the beginning, you have nothing to take away.

It should be fairly easy to observe that Trump offers friendship to his "enemies" to bring them to the table. Its was the only option, threats and antagonism would just prolong the status quo.

At the same time, Trump likes pressuring his "friends" to gain concessions. He is an absolute dick to Canada and Europe, but again, its the best way to get what he wants. Acting friendly is just status quo.

It drives the media absolutely insane to see Trump cuddling with N. Korea while disparaging Canada and Europe, but its a rational play.

Yes, and you lot would have been driven insane if Obama tried the same thing. Obama got crap for bowing to a Saudi prince. Imagine if he played with a glowing orb with them, or called Kim Jong Un all the lovey dovey things Trump does. I'm sure Sean Hannity would have been recommending another Nobel for him.

Are you merely pointing out that politics turns people into ridiculous hypocrites?

You're doing a good job.

Basically, yes. I just thought someone as obviously disastrous as Trump would be enough to break the partisan fever of the more intelligent Reps. Some of them have correctly gone #NeverTrump but not nearly enough, especially the ones on TV and in office.

After defending the last 8 year clown show, you've proven nothing will make you unpartisan.

No, I'm pretty much in the middle. Countering your partisan nonsense about Obama being a disaster doesn't make me a partisan it makes you one. Obama was neither messiah nor disaster. He was a B- president and definitely the right guy to handle 2008. Trump is not Hitler, and he's not as bad as the left makes him out to be. But he's worse than Obama ever was and that's simply obvious.

OK, I'll bite. How is it obvious?

Economic numbers are solid. The disastrous Arab Spring is a fading memory. TPP is in the trash bin of stupid policy, where it belongs. SCOTUS is en route to a 6-3 conservative majority. US corporate tax rates are finally competitive with the OECD average. Sensible immigration policy is slowly, surely being realized. Democrats are melting down into a Third World-social democratic circular firing squad.

I'm still not tired of winning.

Obviously people like you and mulp can't have reasonable discussions about partisan topics. Indeed 'winning' is all you folks care about. It's basically like rooting for a football team. The economic numbers were solid for Obama too, but I doubt you gave him credit. 9/11 is a fading memory too, was that GWB's fault? And so on.

How is he "worse than Obama ever was?"

Temperament. Personality. Class. Corruption. Scandal. Sheer meanness.

The policies are pretty standard Republican stuff. The man is a disaster. Symbolism matters in the leader of the free world. Which he is not, because he is so hated.

Temperament and personality (superficially), yes, you are correct. Corruption and scandals, not so much. Obama has had more scandals than the last 4 presidents and Trump combined. He politicized everything he touched. How many agencies need their command structures dismantled to fix the political nature that Obama instilled into them. They were never perfect, but absolutely never to this degree.

It's hard to take you seriously with statements like "Obama has had more scandals than the last 4 presidents and Trump combined".

Like I said, partisanship makes smart people stupid.

Hillary's email.

Operation Fast and Furious

IRS targets conservative groups


'Red line'

Pallets of cash to Iran /Money laundering for Iran

Spying on journalist

Firing inspector general for reporting Obama friend theft in office

Almost none of those are 'scandals' or corruption. Except on Hannity. Once you turn off Fox News and look for nonpartisan analysis, Obama's administration is pretty clean compared to others. Most of your list are things that had nothing to do with Obama's personal ethics or decisions, or are simply policies you didn't like, or partisan spins on normal events.

It's not complicated. You are Team Red, so all Dems suck and all Reps rule. Obama was far from perfect, I give him a B-. But poor ethics and corruption are not the flaws to beat him with. Trump is of course another story.

Let's see. Some of these are just poor decisions, but some are illegal/corrupt.

Hillary's email. Illegal/felony

IRS targets conservative groups - Paid out compensation to victims

Spying on journalist - illegal

Firing inspector general for reporting Obama friend theft in office - corruption

Email - This is Hillary though. Not Obama.

IRS - There is no indication or evidence this came from Obama. If a rogue ICE agent shoots an illegal immigrant it is not the fault of the president.

Spying on journalist - Absolutely. He cranked that shit to 11. Absolutely obsessed with image and coherency of narrative. Obama was the worst president for 1st amendment rights in decades (not mean tweets, criminal cases against journalists protecting sources).

IG Firing - What's the source on this? Literally never heard or seen evidence for this story.

For the IG -

As for Hillary, she was his SOS at the time, he had emailed her at the illegal address, and did nothing but help her avoid prosecution when it came to light.

I get that he rubs you the wrong way but he's telling a sclerotic Europe to get its shit together and field real militaries, and pursuing the US national interest instead of an inchoate, one-sided "global" interest. Ask Justin Trudeau how far being the world's liberal cat-lady has gotten Canada in geopolitics.

If this is "disaster" or "scandal" I am quite content.

What does Canada need to 'get' from geopolitics?

Of course you are content, your team has the ball.

Not being slowly eaten alive by China, for one. Having a seat at the table as we decide what to do about the Middle East, for another. Then again, perhaps it's best they leave geopolitics to the three countries that actually matter.

You seem to be under the impression that politics is not about the acquisition of State power to further policy ends. Anyway, other than not furthering Obama-era policy preferences, Trump is not disastrously worse than Obama.

You may be right about Obama getting crap for it, but he was weak on all fronts. Nobody thinks Trump can get pushed around like Obama. I don't think Kim thinks Trump is his friend.

What does 'pushed around' mean in this context? Trump hasn't gotten anything of note done in foreign policy. I do welcome the change in tone with NK, but that was my point, if Obama did the same thing you'd be ripping him for cozying up to dictators.

If he had any foreign policy wins I'd celebrate. He celebrates his worse screw ups. If he approached NK from a position of power, I'd give him kudos.

Please don't try to bs me, we've both posted enough to know how the other guy thinks. Nothing Obama could have done or not done would have earned kudos from you. Even now you refuse to acknowledge the slightest success in his 8 years, which is pure partisan stupidity.

Twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

Don't blame me, I voted for Kang!

Successes? I did like he tried to get NASA to stop sending people up into space. But then he beclowned the agency by giving it a mission of muslim outreach. See, I tried. I have to go back to Bill Clinton to see a democrat that I kind of liked, even with acknowledging his flaws.

I am no fan of Obama's, but the NASA muslim outreach thing is a perfect example of a meme that won't die because it's too juicy for partisans. The 'muslim outreach' focus never happened. NASA never focused on Muslim outreach. It's possible that they might have added a section on Arab contribution to math in some promotional material or educational material somewhere, But that would be about it.

Obama's main contribution to NASA was a great step forward, in that he championed commercial crew and supply which enabled companies like SpaceX to succeed. And space regulation is one area wherr the Obama administration did the right thing by reducing regulations that made commercial space flight more difficult than it needed to be.

Obama was a disaster in many ways, but his embrace of the market in space travel was fantastic and has paid huge dividends.

Also he wasn't a disaster in any ways.

They even got politifact to acknowledge.

It got .5 true because Sullivan was sorry he said it, not because it wasn't true.

'It should be fairly easy to observe that Trump offers friendship to his "enemies" to bring them to the table.'

Nobody can be stupid enough think that the North Koreans care about 'friendship.' They simply took advantage of an opportunity to score a great political victory at no cost (in their eyes - whether the U.S. suffers from North Korea's leader being treated as an equal to the president is another discussion).

'Its was the only option, threats and antagonism would just prolong the status quo.'

The status quo remains unchanged, if various sources are to be believed - the North Koreans continue to expand and improve their ability to credibly deploy nuclear weapons.

Kim sur doesn't think Trump is his friend, but at least Trump provides a face saving way to allow Kim to negotiate. Can't get anything without starting a conversation first. At least Trump noticed that 25 years of the same crap wasn't working.

Agreed, Trump hasn't gotten much concretely done with NK but he has changed the tone and at least it's a start. But that's literally all he's done of any worth in foreign policy.

I have a good feeling about how he'll do on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Same as all US presidents, not much.

I was 100% being sarcastic.

110%, even.

LOL my bad.

Trump has also defeated ISIS, which Obama was apparently too moody to accomplish.

Winning. Sure.

What is he winning?

Unprecedented progress with NK, not funding terrorism through Iran anymore, significantly cutting the stream of border violations, in process of 0% taffis with Europe. Not bad for a year and a half.

'Unprecedented progress with NK'

Well, from a North Korean leadership position, sure.

From both sides. Nobody on our side has gotten this far. Maybe it blows up into nothing, but he's further along than anyone else.

NK: nothing is different (except the tone, which is better), Iran is funding just as much terror as before, border situation no real change either, other than the disgusting family separation mess, 'in process' is meaningless. Cost of all this non-winning? Unprecedented weakening of alliances worldwide.

So basically Trump isn't winning shit. Anything good he's done (tax cut, SC justices) would have happened under any Rep president.

I've said this many times, I understand (but don't agree with) the take that Trump was a better call than Hillary. Fine, that's reasonable if you hated her that much, vote for the other one. But she's long gone. If you think Trump is the right person to be in charge you are too stupid to live. Not vs Hillary, I mean versus any other Republican. You are obviously Team Red so you'd support President Kodos if he was an R, but that's why blind partisanship is dumb. It makes otherwise intelligent people defend obvious disasters only because of the R next to their name. The Dems of course do this too.

To be fair, Kodos promised abortions for all, tiny American flags for others.

I’d vote for Kodos.

What is strange to me about comments describing Trump supporters/ rationalizers/ apologists is their avoidance of pointing out the similarities in the nearly identical way that Adolph Hitler's supporters excused away his odious/narcissistic and anti-democratic nature. Yeah, it's not as if he's rounding up people and putting them in camps (illegal immigrants don't count as people, right?)

Trump is not Hitler, and those who call him that are just as dumb as Trumpistas. But there is the same slavish devotion of his fans (Obama had those too).

Obama's delusional fans were more forgivable, since their median age was about 22.

Trump's delusional fans are in their 60s-70s and should know better.

North Korea has and will keep its nukes. And we wont care anymore. I guess thats winning. But for whom?

There is no available deal that convinces Kim to hand over his nukes, aka his life insurance policy. There probably never could have been such a deal, but post-Gadaffi, no way.

I'm not so sure. There are costs involved in maintaining nuclear weapons, and NK isn't rich. In all honesty, what would YOU do if you were NK's decision maker? China isn't above absorbing the Korean peninsula if there were no nuclear deterrent. Ukraine made that mistake with USSR's nukes and Russia has had its way with them.

We are further along with NK than we ever have been, Iran is now funding terror with their own limited resources instead of pallets of US money, and illegal border crossings are significantly down,

Trump wasn't my initial pick, but my choice was not Trump vs anyone I wanted. Between the two he was the better choice. Going forward, I fine with replacing him with someone better qualified, he he'll have the R nomination and who will the Dems put up? The field all look like a bunch of nuts.

Now we're getting somewhere. You could indeed push for a different R to be nominated, it's not like he won't be challenged. You could support that person(s).

It doesn't matter (to you) who the Dems put up, have you ever voted for a Democrat?

He wont have a primary challenger even I know that. Assuming hes not in jail of course.

I'd be pretty surprised if no one even tries, but I'd also be surprised if Trump doesn't easily get re-nominated.

Iranian attacks or intercepts on our ships in the Persian Gulf are down to zero, vs. when Obama was president.

I wonder why?

Idk. Maybe because US incursions into Irans territorial waters are down to zero?

Inconclusive. The optimal number of incursions is clearly greater than none.

I've vote Dem in state and local races. Never national.

at his age, health can deteriorate quickly. (That's assuming he's "all there" upstairs ...(but look at Reagan and his last few years as president, "all there" isn't what it's cracked up to be)) He'll be 75 campaigning for his 2nd term. Given his erratic behavior, a melt-down is a definite possibility.

I used to think there's no way Trump would run for another term. No risk of losing, getting to leave on his own terms, being super old, being sick of the drama. But it's now obvious he LOVES the drama. Sad.

It is quite something when someone of middling success critiques someone of great success at their self identified core competency!

Perhaps better to simply listen and attempt to learn?

Perhaps better to understand the criticism.

Trump's style works fine when there are repeated interactions, as long as the other party has to deal with you. In business, that usually means you are a monopolist of some kind. (Otherwise, they find a more accommodating competitor to trade with, which is why most banks will not lend to Trump.) In international affairs, the United States issues the world's reserve currency, provides the Western world's military, and controls the world's sea lanes, etc., so we do pretty have a monopoly, and other parties have to deal with us.

'and other parties have to deal with us'

Up to the point they can replace us - after all, other parties can have their own perspectives concerning costs and benefits.

The real point is short vs. long term - shifts have already been going on for a while. A good case in point will be Iran - does the U.S. have the sort of cooperation required to make sanctions bite, or will other nations undermine these sanctions, paving the way in the future to get around the U.S.

The E.U. for example is getting quite practiced at simply working around the U.S., while the Chinese are more than happy to buy Iranian oil while trading with Iran to pay for it - without the U.S. being able to influence this in any practical sense.

All I know is what I read in the papers, which tell me that the Europeans are reluctantly cutting business and financial ties with Iran, because the alternative is cutting business and financial ties with the U.S. Will there be some sleazy European wheelers-dealers helping the Iranians? Of course. Will major European banks, or oil companies, or whatever, be doing it? No way.

That works, eh?

In retrospect, it is really amazing that 6 bankruptcies did not matter more. Or for that matter that people could look at the particular model of Trump University, and not see corrupt failure as a pattern.

It was all right there.

.. perhaps our society was in some respects "too loose."

Cry! Cry! Cry! Cry!

Lament, maybe. Lament that the median voter did not catch on quick enough.

But given a 2:1 disapproval to approval ratio, I would say the median voter has caught up.

"His style is really mismatched with the context that he’s in."

The amazing thing is, that for a time, Republicans thought this was a feature and not a bug. That is why his strange behaviour at Republican primary debates only brought him more support.

Right then, we Republicans could have picked a responsible adult.

It is strange how some of the people who voted for Trump on the theory that he was so hated that he would be constrained by the establishment are now pissed off that the establishment is constraining him.

Is it the same people?

That's not why anybody who voted for Trump voted for Trump.

The idiots who voted for Trump wanted to weaken this great nation with his hysterics.

Like it or no: academic invocations of "tight and loose" metaphors with which to assess cultures or mass psychologies are at least as apt as comparable pedestrian invocations to innocently conjure notions of "constipated and diarrheal" cultures--neither of which can boast healthy intestinal fortitude.

What I'm hearing is that human societies vary on many fronts and that quantization on some few measures is futile.

Beyond Trump, Gelfand has researched the role of culture in negotiation. Since I have spent my adult life negotiating, I have observed cultural differences. For example, in some cultures, the negotiations never end. I mean never. Even after reaching a compromise on differences, one can expect to negotiate the compromise. Ad infinitum. On the other hand, other cultures grasp the compromise and move on. I have no proof, but I would expect the former culture to be slow in making progress, while the latter culture would be the opposite. As for me, I admit that I have a deliberate style, but I'm also very goal oriented, so reaching agreement through compromise is in my comfort zone.

"There’s usually many issues at the table. There’s expected future interaction…His style is really mismatched with the context that he’s in."

Anyone notice a lot of these disputes with China, seemingly unrelated, push China into helping us with NK? Trump sees the pressure points an pushes on them. How does this woosh over Gelfand's head.

You should really describe your silo, where you get this peculiar news.

North Korea and China are embarking on a new model together. They are saying "look you can be an oppressive Communist dictatorship and a freewheeling industrial power at the same time."

This is not at all a win for the United States, or for democratic progress worldwide.

Well we have evidence now that in the short term an oppressive country can gradually restore some economic freedom while not restoring political freedom.

Long term who knows. But It sure beats millions of Chinese starving to death, or the madness of the cultural revolution. China and North Korea are not the same, and if NK moves towards China that is a massive win for humanity.

The truly depressing lesson from China is that the low marginal cost of information transfer, storage, and collection can be used in Orwellian ways. Which is akin to what we learned about the NSA.

Nobody wants their country to be North Korea. (Unless they think they get to be Communist God-Emperor for Life, but most people would rather live someplace that's not a hell-hole.)

On the other hand, China is offering an alternative pattern for other countries to try to emulate, rather than following the US/Canada/Western Europe/Australia. Lots of powerful people who'd never want their country to turn into North Korea look at China and think "Free markets, wealth, industry, but one-party rule and censorship--sign me up!" I suspect this will have a bigger (and worse) impact over time than North Korea's nukes, nerve-agent assassinations, and prison-camp country.

I think "free markets" is the wrong term for these societies. There are degrees of freedom that coexist with everything from party extortion to random arrest.

But a harsh society with some degrees of freedom might be more productive than we thought.

'push China into helping us with NK'

Hard as this might be to imagine, the Chinese are only interested in their own interests in terms of North Korea.

But if the Chinese can take over a major part of the South China Sea or Taiwan, why yes, they will sell out the North Koreans in a way that the U.S. would view favorably.

^This deserves more airplay. The biggest concern the Chinese (S. Koreans as well) have is a collapsed regime across the Yalu bringing millions of refugees into Heilongjiang. There an understanding among the intelligence community that secretly China would accept regime change over regime collapse if it came down to it. Their use of N. Korea as a "wild card" in Pacific politics is long since past, and the Kim regime is a joke at high levels in Beijing.

"Chinese are only interested in their own interests" No crap. That's why putting pressure on them through other routes has been working.

I honestly think that it is close to impossible to have a unbiased view of Trump at this point. I say that admitting that even my own view is biased in ways that are hard to untangled. There's a video going around called "Stop making me defend Trump" that is funny and very real. That problem (trying to keep criticism within facts and not feelings about Trump) is influencing everything in ways that make Obama and Bush seem like child's play.

Well sure, Trump is a whole 'nuther thing. That was kind of the point, let's elect someone different to shake up the status quo. Well, they did, and this is what that looks like.

That "'nuther thing" sure looks good to me.

I hope you're intelligent enough to know that the economic cycle has very little to do with presidents. Obama was in charge during a long recovery, but I doubt you gave him credit. I don't give presidents much credit or blame for the economic cycle, but the electorate does.

If the economy is still humming in 2020 Trump is getting re-elected. If it tanks around then he's toast. And it's mostly not in his control.

Economic cycle doesn't, but SME optimism, sentiment, outlook and reinvestment does. I don't think people appreciate how much Obama damaged himself and his standing in the small business community with his "you didn't build that" campaign comment. I work extensively with hundreds of clients that employ 50 or fewer people nationwide and I know of none that weren't riled or plain infuriated by that comment. That is but one example.

Obama and democrats do not appreciate how much that one comment impacted the current political state of affairs. Economic cycle is related to business sentiment, but they aren't the same thing.

It sure didn't help things. Probably his biggest gaffe, even if the point he was trying to make was fairly benign.

Tax cuts, especially corp. tax rates, and lowering regulations will spur growth. We know that. Obama had a chance to do these tax reforms in 2009 and decided instead to spend more instead of cutting more taxes as stimulus, despite advice from Romer.

He's now whining about it, but he wasted his crisis.

No doubt he could have done that a little better, but it wouldn't have made a huge difference. Where he gets a lot of credit from me is in avoiding the calls from his party to nationalize the banks and criminalize the bankers. That's exhibit A for why Obama was pretty center-left and not some commie like he was portrayed and opposed as.

I keep wondering how much of the success of self-labeled socialists in the last few years can be attributed to the campaign of calling Obama a socialist for eight straight years. It's like millions of people started thinking "Socialist? You mean like Obama?" and thought that sounded pretty good.

Of course Obama wasn't remotely a socialist, but then, political rhetoric doesn't have to make sense to be effective.

Excellent comment

He was no friend to capitalism, and as to whether his inclinations are for a socialistic society, opinions will vary. Do you remember Obama's first Presidential meetings with the big corporations' CEO's? They were not a happy crew, afterwards, iirc.

"Of course Obama wasn't remotely a socialist,"

I remember the Nationalization of a good chunk of the Car Industry. Granted, it was a temporary event, but it did happen. That's what made the label a little bit more than mere hype. It's certainly an exaggeration, but there's a kernel of truth.

Screwing over secured debt holders to make the unions whole.

More fascist than socialist.

I agree. In my mind I see a parallel to the reason Trump won (identity politics)

I had almost no understanding of this "tight/ loose" culture concept, so I found this a great CWT, pretty much from start to finish. I also think she is very good at talking. At first, I thought it was media training, but I suspect she just lectures and presents a lot.

Why did he ask about Staten Island...?

The whole tight/loose thing was first discovered by noted economists Archie Bell and the Drells. They told us to tighten up, but did we listen? No.

Are we past the point where someone who hopes to maintain an academic career in good standing can offer an assessment of Trump that could be positive?

Seems like at this point people have their opinions of Trump, once something is said that contradicts people's previous opinions about him, people stop listening to the speaker.

Who can a college professor afford to have stop listening to them?

Interesting talk, but I don't think she's in the same league as Haidt or Peterson.

The goldilocks principle is really a meta-principle, right?

Relevant SSC link:

It's really the beginning, not the end, of the conversation. Gelfand's willingness to reach for "free speech" as a good case for applying the Goldilocks principle is an important signal. Her later completely missing Tyler's obvious question about SJW-tightness and going on about the tightness of Trumpers is also interesting. You can tell where she's coming from.

I have trouble taking her seriously especially since she talks about Malaysia, Pakistan and India as being relatively poor countries and tight.

Malaysia isn’t a “relatively poor” country and it is also has more diverse civilizations origins than the other two countries (East Asian, South Asian and Polynesian). Her sample size in Malaysia must be awfully small and she must not understand Malaysia very well if her data points to th culture being tight. Malaysia is like a less developed version of Singapore and not like India or Pakistan at all. I also suspect her sampling in India and Pakistan is limited because there are large regional variations in behavior. I find the scholarship suspect.

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