Cultural Intelligence: A Conversation with Michele Gelfand

Michele Gelfand: For about 30 years, I’ve been interested in questions regarding the evolution of culture and its consequences for human groups. Culture is a strange puzzle, omnipresent but invisible. We rarely recognize how powerful a force it is. It’s astonishing that we take for granted something that affects us so much. It’s kind of like the old story about two fish: Two fish are swimming along and another fish comes by and says, “Hey boys, how’s the water?” and they swim on. Then one of the fish says to the other, “What the hell is water?” The story has a profound point, which is that sometimes the most important realities are the things that are hardest to see. For fish, that’s water, and for humans, that’s culture.

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