The Shmooze

Israel Is Laid-Back, Study Finds

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

Apparently, there’s no need for Israel to loosen up. So say the results of a psychological and cultural study published on May 27 in the journal Science looking closely at 33 different countries in an effort to better understand cultural differences, and consequently foster better cross-cultural communication and cooperation.

A large international team of scientists led by Michele J. Gelfand, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, considered the “tightness” and “looseness” of various countries and their cultures. “Tight” national cultures have many strong norms and a low tolerance of deviant behavior, and “loose” ones have weak social norms and a high tolerance of deviant behavior. In determining where nations stood on the tight-loose continuum, the researchers considered factors such as ecological and historical threats, broad versus narrow socialization in societal institutions like government and media, the strength of everyday recurring situations, and micro-level psychological affordances such as regulatory strength and the need for structure.

Of the 33 countries for which data was collected, Pakistan was found to be the tightest, and Ukraine the loosest. The results for many countries were not surprising, Gelfand said in an interview for PRI’s The World. Japan, for instance, predictably turned out to be rather tight.

Israel, however, was a bit of wildcard. “Israel is a country that should be quite tight according to our theory in terms of the threats that the nation faces,” she said. “However, it’s quite loose in our data, and I think it’s important to consider the unique cultural experiences and historical circumstances of any particular country…For example, Israel is a very young country. It’s a country where a lot of immigrants came from countries in Eastern Europe, which in our data are quite loose. Also, it’s a country with a religion that encourages dissent and argumentation, which promotes looseness.”

While the researchers may have found this result about Israel surprising, those of us who know the country well will not. We know it as a place where plenty of people think that rules are meant to be broken, and where everyone believes his or her own way of doing things is the best. And besides, what possible reason could there be to worry about things not going as planned? “Al tid’ag – y’hiyeh b’seder” (Don’t worry, everything will be okay).


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sociology, Science, Pakistan, Michele J. Gelfand, Israel, Ukraine

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.