Gelfand, Michele

Michele Gelfand
Department of Psychology
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
3147C Biology Psychology
General Research Interests: 
  • Culture and Psychology
  • Negotiation and Conflict
  • Diversity and Justice

Culture and Psychology

I was trained under the guidance of Harry Triandis and am interested in understanding what makes human groups similar and different in order to broaden psychological and management science and to inform practice and policy. My early work focused on the distinction of vertical and horizontal individualism and collectivism (see the scale here). Our team has recently begun to systematically investigate the strength of norms across cultures, or what is referred to as cultural tightness-looseness (TL). Teaming up with partners around the world and from different disciplines, we are doing research on the ecological and historical factors that promote TL at both the national and state level, the neurobiological and genetic underpinnings of TL, the evolutionary basis of TL, and the implications of TL for organizations and expatriate and for societal well-being. More recently I have also been doing work on subjective culture (e.g., honor, wasta, fatalism) in the Middle East. We use laboratory, field, computational, and EEG and fRMI to examine our research questions. I also edit the series Advances in Cultural Psychology which summarizes important research programs in the emerging field of Cultural Psychology.
Negotiation and Conflict
Conflict is inevitable, and it is how conflict is managed that helps or hinders human groups. Our research explores the conditions under which conflict can originate and spread in cultural systems and how norms for conflict management develop. We also explore the way that individuals and groups negotiate about conflict issues, and the different processes through which successful negotiation agreements occur within and across cultures. Our work examines culture universality and specificity in the etiology of revenge and forgiveness, as well as the cultural psychology of terrorism. We also focus empowerment in negotiation, and explore how stigmatized individuals can overcome limitations to their negotiation authority.
Diversity and Justice
Systematic discrimination and injustice inside and outside of the workplace can perpetuate unhealthy organizational climates. We explore the roots of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and other issues concerning organizational justice, in an effort to inspire organizational equality and minimize prejudice.
Dr. Gelfand is Professor of Psychology and affiliate of the RH Smith School of Business and is a Distinguished University Scholar Teacher at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Ph.D. in Social/ Organizational Psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.
Dr. Gelfand is an expert on cultural influences on conflict, negotiation, justice, and revenge; workplace diversity and discrimination; and theory and methods in cross-cultural management. Her work has been published in top outlets such as Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Research in Organizational Behavior, Journal of Applied Psychology, Annual Review of Psychology, Psychological Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, among others. She is the co-editor of The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture (with Jeanne Brett, Stanford University Press) and The Psychology of Conflict and Conflict Management in Organizations (with Carsten De Dreu, Erlbaum) and is the founding co-editor of the Advances in Culture and Psychology series and Frontiers of Culture and Psychology series (with CY Chiu and Ying-Yi Hong, Oxford University Press).
Dr. Gelfand is the Past President of the International Association for Conflict Management, Past Division Chair of the Conflict Division of the Academy of Management, and Past Treasurer of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. She received the LL Cummings Career award from the Academy of Management and the Ernest J. McCormick Award for Early Career Contributions from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
She has also won a number of other awards for her work, including the most recent Annaliese Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation which was given to 7 scientists worldwide for outstanding contributions in their fields. Her work that was published in Science was honored with the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues for the best paper published 2011.
Dr. Gelfand is a fellow of the Academy of Management, Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Association, Society for I/O Psychology, and an elected member of the Society for Organizational Behavior and Society for Experimental Social Psychology. She is an elected member to the Cosmos Club in Washington DC.
Dr. Gelfand has received over 10 million dollars in funding to conduct research on culture and negotiation and conflict all over the globe. She teaches courses and does consulting on negotiation and cross-cultural management