Our lab focuses on the interplay between cultural contexts and psychological processes. To understand dynamic ways in which culture and psychological processes mutually shape and sustain each other, the specific aim of our research program is twofold: (i) to illuminate cultural differences in psychological processes, and (ii) to elucidate multilevel mechanisms through which cultural systems shape psychological processes.


Hedonic vs. Dialectical Beliefs about Emotions and Emotion Regulation


It has been assumed that people generally want to seek positive emotions and avoid negative emotions – the emotion regulation strategy termed “hedonic emotion regulation” (Miyamoto & Ma, 2011). However, studies have shown that there are individual and situational variations in the extent to which people regulate their emotions hedonically. Furthermore, an attempt to increase positive emotions can sometimes bring negative consequences. Such findings suggest that hedonic emotion regulation is not always the most common or beneficial way to regulate emotions. By focusing on Eastern beliefs in dialecticism that accepts contradiction and change (Peng & Nisbett, 1999), our lab elucidates how dialectical beliefs lead Easterners to engage in less hedonic emotion regulation than Westerners do, and how such beliefs manifest in the way positive and negative emotions are experienced.


Relevant Publications:

Miyamoto, Y., Ma, X., & Petermann, A. G. (2014). Cultural differences in hedonic emotion regulation after a negative event. Emotion, 14, 804-815. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y., & Ma, X. (2011). Dampening or savoring positive emotions: A dialectical cultural script guides emotion regulation. Emotion, 11, 1346-1357. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y. & Ryff, C. (2011). Cultural differences in the dialectical and non-dialectical emotional styles and their implications for health. Cognition and Emotion, 25, 22-30. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y., Uchida, Y., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2010). Culture and mixed emotions: Co-occurrence of positive and negative emotions in Japan and the U.S. Emotion, 10, 404-415. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y. & Kitayama, S. (2009). Individualism and collectivism. In K. Scherer & D. Sander (Eds.), Oxford Companion to Emotion and the Affective Sciences, pp. 215-217. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Cultural Moderation of the Link between Emotion and Optimal Human Functioning


Various studies conducted in Western culture have shown that negative emotions are linked to worse physical health, including increased mortality (e.g., Kiecolt-Glaser, McGuire, Robles, & Glaser, 2002). However, in Eastern cultural contexts where negative emotions are less likely to be perceived as unacceptable or to be avoided, adverse health concomitants may be less evident compared to Western cultural contexts. In fact, our research has shown that although negative emotions are associated with worse mental and physical health outcomes in the United States, such associations between negative emotions and health are weaker or non-existent in Japan.


Relevant Publications:

Curhan, K. B., Sims, T., Markus, H.R., Kitayama, S., Karasawa, M., Kawakami, N., Love, G., Coe, C. L., Miyamoto, Y., & Ryff, C.D. (2014). Just how bad negative affect is for your health depends on culture. Psychological Science, 25, 2277-2280. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y., Boylan, J. M., Coe, C. L., Curhan, K., Levine, C. S., Markus, H. R., Park, J., Kitayama, S., Kawakami, N., Karasawa, M., Love, G. D., & Ryff, C. (2013). Negative emotions predict elevated interleukin-6 in the United States but not in Japan. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 34, 79-85. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y. & Ryff, C. (2011). Cultural differences in the dialectical and non-dialectical emotional styles and their implications for health. Cognition and Emotion, 25, 22-30. [pdf]


Multilevel Mechanisms Underlying Cultural Differences in Cognition


A large body of studies has shown cultural differences in how much people attend to contextual information: whereas Westerners tend to focus on a focal object without being overly constrained by its surrounding context (i.e., analytic cognition), East Asians tend to attend to the relationships between objects and their contexts (i.e., holistic cognition; Nisbett, Peng, Choi, & Norenzayan, 2001). How do such cultural differences emerge and how are they sustained within each culture? Our lab has been trying to elucidate how distal processes shape individual processes through proximal processes. For example, our lab has been examining how cognition is shaped through participation in proximal interpersonal processes, such as power relationships, and how distal cultural contexts can moderate the effect of proximal processes on cognition (Miyamoto, 2013; Miyamoto & Wilken, 2010).


Relevant Publications:

Miyamoto, Y. (2013). Culture and analytic versus holistic cognition: Toward multilevel analyses of cultural influences. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 131-188. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y., & Wilken, B. (2013). Cultural differences and their mechanisms. In D. Reisberg (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Psychology, pp. 970-985. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y., & Ji, L.J. (2011). Power fosters context-independent, analytic cognition. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 1449-1458. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y. & Wilken, B. (2010). Culturally contingent situated cognition: Influencing others fosters analytic perception in the U.S. but not in Japan. Psychological Science, 21, 1616-1622. [pdf]

Miyamoto, Y., Nisbett, R. E., & Masuda, T. (2006). Culture and the physical environment: Holistic versus analytic perceptual affordances. Psychological Science, 17, 113-119. [pdf]

Nisbett, R. E. & Miyamoto, Y. (2005). The influence of culture: Holistic versus analytic perception. Trends in Cognitive Science, 9, 467-473. [pdf]