Culture and Emotion

It is generally assumed that people want to increase positive emotions and avoid negative emotions. However, research conducted in our lab shows that whereas such a pro-positive/contra-negative system of emotion is prevalent in American cultural contexts, a more balanced system of emotion is prevalent in East Asian cultural contexts. We are examining how the valuation, regulation, and experiences of emotions mutually shape each other and function to sustain such culturally divergent systems of emotion (Miyamoto, Ma, & Wilken, 2017).


  • East Asians have a more balanced valuation (i.e., dialectical beliefs) of positive emotions, which leads them to dampen positive emotions more than European Americans do after a positive event (Miyamoto & Ma, 2011).
  • East Asians have a more balanced valuation (i.e., perceived utility) of negative emotions, which leads them to accept negative emotions more than European Americans do after a negative event (Miyamoto, Ma, & Petermann, 2014).
  • Cultural differences in regulation of positive emotions are larger when people are engaging in active goal pursuit (Ma, Tamir, & Miyamoto, 2018).
Pro-positive and contra-negative versus balanced systems of emotion from Miyamoto, Ma, & Wilken (2017)

Relevant Publications:

Ma, X., Tamir, M., & Miyamoto, Y. (2018). Socio-cultural instrumental approach to emotion regulation: Culture and the regulation of positive emotionsEmotion, 18, 138-152.

Miyamoto, Y., Ma, X., & Wilken, B. (2017). Cultural variation in pro-positive versus balanced systems of emotions. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 15, 27-32.

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

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

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.

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. Emotion10, 404-415.