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Cultural Evolutionary Mismatches in Response to Collective Threat


Across the millennia, human groups have evolved specific cultural and psychological adaptations to cope with collective threats, from terrorism to natural disasters to pathogens. In particular, research has identified cultural tightness, characterized by strict social norms and punishments, as one key adaptation that helps groups coordinate to survive collective threats. However, interferences with threat signals that facilitate tightening can lead to cultural mismatches—either too much or not enough tightening. I discuss two examples of cultural mismatches: the COVID-19 pandemic (a case in which collective threat is real, but there is a resistance to tightening) and the rise of populist movements (a case in which exaggerated threat leads to unnecessary tightening).

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Full Citation:

Gelfand, Michele J. 2021. "Cultural Evolutionary Mismatches in Response to Collective Threat." Current Directions in Psychological Science (September). https://doi.org/10.1177/09637214211025032

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