RULE MAKERS, RULE BREAKERS: How Tight & Loose Cultures Wire Our World | Michele Gelfand, Scribner, 376p. “Culture,” Gelfand writes, “is a stubborn mystery of our experience and one of the last uncharted frontiers.” In explaining societal motivations, she is a culturalist. Gelfand sees all societies spread on a continuum of those that are tighter or loser regarding rule-following. Loose has less control with a higher degree of diversity, and tighter has more power with less permissibility. Tighter societies develop due to an onslaught of adversity: natural disasters, plague, political or civil unrest, and war. Conversely, looser ones have had different repeated external challenges. Stricter societies are not necessarily nondemocratic in their modern structures. Still, their experience with self-determination will be remarkably different than, say, the United States - one of the more loose societies according to this theory. The culture drives the norms, and the norms drive behavior. These norms provide an evolutionary advantage, promoting cooperation more efficiently. While this work was produced before COVID-19, it is easy to see through its lens the rigor of self-imposed social distancing and outcomes observed in Germany versus Italy. Gelfand is agnostic on any judgments between the bookends. Tighter ones provide more celebrated traditions and stability, while loosers offer more significant innovation and creativity. She argues societies can move along the spectrum in response to shocks, for instance, terrorism. And that within a community, you can have differing cultures, for example, tighter amongst the working class and looser amongst the upper level. The book is sometimes repetitive and feels under-edited, but the central arguments retain merit and are worth reviewing.