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: (1) to illuminate cultural differences in emotion and cognition, and their health implications, and (2) to elucidate multilevel influences of culture and social hierarchy on psychological processes.


Pro-Positive vs. Balanced Systems of Emotions


People often view positive emotions favorably and want to increase positive emotions, and view negative emotions unfavorably and want to decrease negative emotions. Although such pro-positive and contra-negative orientations to emotions are found in general, there are also individual and situational variations. Research conducted in our lab shows that a pro-positive/contra-negative orientation to emotion is more prevalent in American culture, which has been characterized by linear, analytic logic and independence, whereas a more balanced orientation toward emotion exists in East Asian culture, which has been historically influenced by dialectical beliefs and interdependence. These cultural differences manifest in the valuation, regulation, and experience of emotion.


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 Health Implications of Emotions


Various studies conducted in Western culture have shown that negative (positive) emotions are linked to worse (better) physical health, including increased mortality. However, in Eastern cultural contexts where people have a more balanced orientation to positive and negative emotions, health concomitants of positive and negative emotions may be less evident compared to Western cultural contexts. In fact, our research has shown that although negative (positive) emotions are associated with worse (better) mental and physical health outcomes in the United States, such associations tend to be weaker or non-existent in Japan.


Relevant Publications:

Yoo, J., Miyamoto, Y., & Ryff, C. (in press). Positive affect, social connectedness, and healthy biomarkers in Japan and the U.S. Emotion.  [pdf]

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]


Culture and Social Hierarchy


A large body of research, conducted predominantly in Western cultures, has shown that social hierarchy influences psychological processes. People who are ranked higher in their society (e.g., those who have more power, those who belong to higher socioeconomic status) tend to show more self-oriented thinking, focus on pursuing self-set goals, and show an analytic cognitive style than people who are ranked lower in the society. However, social hierarchy exists within certain cultural contexts, which can shape its meaning and manifestation (Miyamoto, 2013). In this line of research, I have focused on elucidating the effects of social hierarchy on psychological processes and how cultural contexts may moderate the effects.


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]