MICHELE GELFAND: You know, I think often we think about social class as just being about our bank accounts. We don’t think about how is class cultural, truly cultural in terms of differences in values and norms that are socialized in different groups for good reasons. And tightness-looseness, it just doesn’t differentiate nations and states, it also differentiates social class with the same exact logic. We went out and we’ve been surveying people from the working class and people from the middle and upper classes, and what’s fascinating is when we ask people about rules, ‘just tell us five words that you think of for rules’, we see that the working class sees rules very positively. Rules in the working class are important. They’re important for helping people to slide into hard living, as sociologists would call it—to poverty, to the dregs of poverty. Rules are helpful if you’re going to be going into occupations where there’s a lot of danger, where there’s less discretion. The middle class and upper class they saw rules more negatively. They saw it as goody two shoes when you’re following the rules. For the working class, rules are important for survival. For the middle class, there’s a safety net so you can actually afford to be rule-breaking in this context.
And what’s fascinating is, we measure the ZIP codes of people coming into our lab and then we track the neighborhoods they live in. And, for sure, the working class live in much more threatening environments when it comes to crime, unemployment. They report being subject to many more threats. What’s remarkable is that this starts very early. We wanted to see how early can we see these differences developing? And we started to see this even as early as three years old. What we did was we brought three-year-olds into the lab, working-class and middle-class kids. And you can’t exactly ask them about rules, right. But what we did was we borrowed a technique from the Max Planck Institute where we had them interacting with a puppet. His name was Max the Puppet. And they got to know him and they enjoyed playing with him. And Max the Puppet suddenly after a little while became Max the Norm Violator. He started violating all the rules of the game and announcing that he’s actually playing the game correctly. And we simply wanted to know: how did the kids react? Is there a different reaction by age three? And there sure was.
The middle class, in general, were much more likely to laugh and kind of let it go, and the working-class kids wanted Max the Puppet to stop. They told him to stop. They told him it was wrong. And parents are already socializing their kids, by the age of three, to help them fit into the kind of threatening or non-threatening environments they’re going to be working in. So it’s really important to see that these differences arise for a reason and they arise early.
So the rise of Donald Trump has been such an enigma to so many people. Is it an ideology? Is it a personality? In fact, Donald Trump is semi—he’s a very good cross-cultural psychologist. He understands the role of fear and threat in mobilizing people to want more tightness and to want autocratic leaders. And we’ve seen this in our data. The people that were interested in voting for Trump felt very threatened and they felt the country was too loose. And this is not just a Trump phenomenon. It’s all over the world. When we measure support for Le Pen in France we had the same exact data that showed that people who feel threatened want stronger rules and leaders to help them to coordinate to survive. These leaders tap into a very important evolutionary type of instinct: when there’s threat and when there’s disorder, we want strong rulers to help us in those contexts.
And one thing that really predicts whether groups are tight or loose is the amount of threat that they face. And threat can be from a variety of sources; it could be from mother nature, could be natural disasters or famine, or it could be population density. It could also be man-made; it could be the number of invasions you’ve had over the last couple of centuries. And so when there’s threat, there’s the need for strong rules to coordinate to survive. And so actually tightness-looseness has a really important logic, a hidden logic, that helps us understand why certain groups become tight or loose. Loose groups, whether they’re nations or states or organizations, they face less threat so they can afford to be more permissive. Groups tend to evolve to be calibrated to the degree of threat that they have. When you have exaggerated threats, it means that we’re sacrificing liberty for security in contexts when we don’t really need to do that.
The problem here is that we have to separate objective from subjective threat. It’s true that a lot of the working class does objectively feel very threatened in this country and we need, as a loose culture, to reach out and work to help them deal with the threats that are happening from globalization. But it’s also the case that leaders like Trump and others use threat and target people who are threatened in order to gain popularity.
Working-class people take rules more seriously. Upper- and middle-class people do not. Why? The latter have financial and social safety nets, so they can afford to break some rules.
Research shows that, by the age of three, working-class children are primed to be more rigid about rules. Those rules help working-class people survive what sociologists call ‘hard living’: extreme poverty, dangerous jobs, and unsafe neighborhoods. Having strong rules increases chances of safety and survival.
Harnessing this evolutionary psychology can be very powerful in politics. Populists like Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen exaggerate fear and threat to gain popularity. They understand “the role of fear and threat in mobilizing people to want more tightness and to want autocratic leaders,” Gelfand explains.
In Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World, Michele Gelfand explains her research into ‘tight’ and ‘loose’ cultures. Get a crash course here.
Small, Pink Yoga
A Concrete Poem
Presented as text
ever so bad
ever so hyperactive
very sharp gonna gonna
so pink gonna all pink
very sharp friendly!
active, sad, affable
active, sad, mad
ever so hyperactive
active, sad, affable
active, awesome, awful
quite small active, sad, mad
quite small very sharp
very amazing be
This is not political write-up,
I do not know if the people of India understand the significance of these two news, which came today –
Few days ago, US had warned India not to go forward with S400 air defence system deal with Russia, and had threatened a sanction. India went ahead with the deal. Today, US government issued a statement that it has no problem with the deal if it helps their allies (India here) to strengthen their defense capabilities.
US has put a strong sanction against Iran, which starts next month. This means countries will not be able to trade with Iran, and doing so, they risk a sanction on themselves. Today, Petroleum Ministry issued a statement that India will continue the oil trade with Iran despite US sanctions.
I am not going to get into unnecessary terms like 56 inch here, but would definitely like to reiterate that this is not an old India. This is a new India, for whom its own interests matter the most. We have a powerful government who is not afraid to take any decision under international pressure when it comes to national interest. Be it using diplomacy, persuasion or power, we will go ahead with our interests.
This is a new country, which is asserting its growing influence!! If you cannot see this.
God bless you..
Knuckle Down Meaning: Getting sincere about something; applying oneself seriously to a job. Two impromptu Ice-breaker speeches – moving towards Goal 1. Did not win prize, got a participation certificate but the pleasure was in audience individuals – rank strangers coming back not just complimenting but quoting me ‘VERBATIM’ and saying, they loved it, they would like to keep in touch, some even said we would like to learn a few things from you. I was humbled.
Dropping Like Flies Meaning: To fall down ill or to die in large numbers. I wish it does not happen to humans, pests and insects, viruses and diseases is another matter. What I noticed today is the best Evaluators club of Toastmasters had difficulty in filling the hall with audience and participants for the Marathons the Area Directors are planning to hold across city. One actually said about ATTRITION of members? That was sad. It said a lot about the lack of leadership and the Pull and Push of the managing committees.
Man of Few Words Meaning: A person who does not speak a great deal; someone who talks with as few words as possible. Met an interesting person. He was my speech evaluator. His speciality is being brief and as an extempore impromptu ice breaker speaker who was pushed to speak – I had failed by exceeding the time limit. He said he will mail his evaluation ! That’s it. 🙂
Poke Fun At Meaning: Making fun of something or someone; ridicule. Had this experience. At the end of a dominant communicator speech the speaker did actually did not want any questions. When asked – he asked me to repeat thrice and explain 4 time and I was about to say – “Let’s take this off line as I did not ask this to challenge you but to support your views, just clarifying a point”. Some Speakers are on their High HOrse ! They feel, they are the only one who can challenge! Anyone asking a question is a lowly minion, dimwit and brainless. My Professorial hat tells me to answer them – Questions are never stupid – answers are – like mine 🙂 🙂 .
Hear, Hear Meaning: A shout of agreement, or to draw attention to a speaker. I asked the speaker that when a friend is faced with problems – should I make an appreciative enquiry and find what solutions he has in his mind, as he knows the problems best. Second, is my friend looking for an Affirmation that the solution he has found has my tacit support so that he can try it out with heart? I was taken round and round in derogatory circles with a menacing look on the face by a socalled Guinness Award winner and World Speech champion and I felt very sad for him. What did I do to hurt his Ego?
On the Same Page Meaning: Thinking alike or understanding something in a similar way with others. Sometimes, in a gathering when you wish to say that you are in the same boat, same page, thinking alike – it is best to use non-verbal communication like nodding your head to convey Yes, I agree.
Swinging For the Fences Meaning: Giving something your all. One more article coming up in a new club Newsletter which was launched today. Felt great. Meeting new Chamber of commerce and meeting some very interesting and interested people ( atleast on the face of it) I felt great and felt genuinely that there are things I can do to assist and help. The new Chairman was receptive and said wants to have a one on one Strategy/ vision statement session. He said he is a Visual thinker like me, that was pleasing.
Up In Arms Meaning: Angry; being roused to the point that you are ready to fight. But I gave up. I saw on Whatsapp the pictures of a poor girl being honored by a sport shoes company and giving them her name as she could not afford them. i felt sad for someone whose dream was ignited, latent wishes brought to fore in my mentoring but had given up on them with diffidence. I was angry inside but let go.
Quick and Dirty Meaning: Things that are fixed with great speed, but as a result, it’s probably not going to work very well. Hmmm… it was a busy day, I could have gone and got my Suits overhauled now that I have lost so much weight and bought a new pair of formal shoes as the formal meetings are moving up but I just changed jackets for two occasions – Reminder to self – GO FIX THIS ASAP.
Mountain Out of a Molehill Meaning: One who escalates small things and turns them into big problems. I found a senior evaluator indulging in overstatements, exaggerations, over praise, excessive acting skills show and was bit turned off. Then I met him one on one for about 7 minutes, got his life story out and realised that even at our late age – the need to RECOGNITION is so high that NAME AUR FAME KE LIYE KUCHH BHI KAREGA i.e. I’ll do any thing to get name and fame. I quietly agreed to disagreed and moved on to another person by saying “Sorry, Sir, I do not wish to monopolise you, others also need your kind attention”. Thank you.