Cultural differences and similarities in beliefs, practices, and neural mechanisms of emotion regulation

Yang Qu*, Eva H. Telzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: The current research examined whether culture shapes the beliefs, practices, and neural basis of emotion regulation. Method: Twenty-nine American and Chinese participants reported their implicit theory of emotion and frequency of reappraisal use. They also underwent an fMRI scan while completing an emotion regulation task. Results: Chinese (vs. American) participants reported more frequent use of reappraisal, which was mediated by their higher incremental theory of emotion (i.e., believing that emotion is changeable through effort). Although there were some cultural similarities in neural activation during emotion regulation, Chinese participants showed less ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) activation than American participants when regulating negative emotions. Lower VLPFC activation was associated with higher incremental theory of emotion and more frequent use of cognitive reappraisal. Conclusions: Findings suggest that culture may shape how individuals perceive and engage in emotion regulation, and ultimately, the neural mechanisms underlying emotion regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-44
Number of pages9
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Cognitive reappraisal
  • Culture
  • Emotion regulation
  • FMRI
  • Implicit beliefs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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