Culture and Health

Cross-cultural studies have accumulated evidence on cultural variations in a wide range of psychological processes. But what are health implications of such cultural variations? For example, what does it mean for one’s health to have a pro-positive orientation to emotions in the U.S. (vs. Japan)? Our lab is forging connections between cultural psychology and heath to elucidate health implications of cultural variations in psychological processes.


  • Positive emotions predict better health (i.e., a healthier lipids profile) in the U.S., but the associations are weaker or non-existent in Japan (Yoo, Miyamoto, Rigotti, & Ryff, 2017).
  • Negative emotions predict worse health (i.e., an elevated level of inflammatory marker; Interleukin-6) in the U.S., but there is no association in Japan (Miyamoto et al., 2013; see also Curhan et al., 2014).
  • People with self-construal that matches their cultural contexts tend to engage in healthier eating habits (Levine, Miyamoto et al., 2016).

Cultural Models of Optimal Functioning from Miyamoto, Yoo, & Wilken (forthcoming)

Relevant Publications:

Wilken, B., & Miyamoto, Y. (accepted). Protestant and Buddhist differences in non-influence strategies of emotion regulation and their links to depressive symptoms. Emotion.

Miyamoto, Y., Yoo, J., & Wilken, B. (forthcoming). Well-being and health: A cultural psychology of optimal human functioning. In S. Kitayama & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of Cultural Psychology (2nd Ed.) New York, NY: Guilford.

Yoo, J., Miyamoto, Y., Rigotti, A., & Ryff, C. D. (2017). Linking positive affect to blood lipids: A cultural perspectivePsychological Science, 28, 1468-1477.

Yoo, J., Miyamoto, Y., & Ryff, C. (2016). Positive affect, social connectedness, and healthy biomarkers in Japan and the U.S. Emotion, 16, 1137-1146.

Levine, C. S., Miyamoto, Y., Markus, H. R., Park, J., Kitayama, S., Kawakami, N., Karasawa, M., Boylan, J. M., Coe, C. L., Love, G. D., & Ryff, C. D. (2016). Culture and healthy eating: The role of independence and interdependence in the United States and JapanPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42, 1335-1348.

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 culturePsychological Science, 25, 2277-2280.

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 JapanBrain, Behavior, and Immunity, 34, 79-85.

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