Thomas Talhelm studies how culture affects the way we behave. He studies how rice and wheat agriculture have given northern and southern China two very different cultures, even influencing whether people move chairs in Starbucks. His research also finds that liberal culture in the US is more individualistic and that getting people to think more analytically increases support for liberal social policies, whereas thinking holistically increases support for conservative policies. Thomas occasionally lectures and writes about research and culture in Chinese.

Thomas lived in China for five years teaching high school in Guangzhou as a Princeton in Asia fellow, a freelance journalist in Beijing, and a Fulbright scholar and a NSF Graduate Research Fellow. While living in Beijing, Thomas founded Smart Air, a social enterprise that ships low-cost air purifiers to help people breathe clean air without shelling out thousands of dollars for expensive purifiers.

Thomas earned his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Virginia and a B.A. with Highest Honors in psychology and Spanish from the University of Michigan.

Professor Talhelm is recruiting PhD students. Students interested in culture, politics, and social ecology should apply.

Academic Areas

  • Behavioral Science

Working Papers

2021 - 2022 Course Schedule

Number Course Title Quarter
38901 Current Topics in Behavioral Science I 2021 (Autumn)
38103 Strategies and Processes of Negotiation 2021 (Autumn)

2022 - 2023 Course Schedule

Number Course Title Quarter
38126 Culture (And Why It Matters) 2022 (Autumn)