Israel: a looser country than the UK

Israel is home to one of the four "loosest" cultures in the world, a new study has found.

According to an international research team, Israeli social norms are far less rigid than those of countries including Mexico, the UK and France.

Researchers, lead by psychology Professor Michele Gelfand at the University of Maryland, examined 33 countries and surveyed nearly 7,000 people.

They questioned them on different social issues and how they were tackled in their countries, with topics ranging from abortion to divorce and from public affection to fare-dodging.

The "tightest" country was Pakistan, while only Hungary, Estonia and the Ukraine had "looser" social rules than Israel.

But the researchers found that Israel was the exception to the rule, in that countries which were under threat, from natural disaster or political conflict, tended to be more rigid.

Prof Gelfand said she believed that the reason for this was the "loose" eastern European heritage of many Israelis.

But she added: "It's also a culture of argumentation, debate, dissent, that really is very much consistent with Judaism."

    Last updated: 2:44pm, May 27 2011