Abstract: Research has identified a genetic basis for a wide range of social and emotional behaviors. Yet, there is a growing body of research showing the impact of the environment in moderating gene expression. In our research, we found that culture, as a form of environment that provides social context in which behaviors take place, plays a significant role in shaping how genes are expressed in behaviors and psychological tendencies. I will present studies in which we examined the gene-by-culture interaction in shaping emotion behaviors that are known to vary across cultures, such as emotional attention, emotion regulation and emotional support seeking. The present studies examined how culture moderates the link between oxytocin receptor polymorphism (OXTR) to produce culturally divergent psychological outcomes. These results support the idea that genes influence psychological predispositions, and that the behavioral manifestations of these predispositions are moderated by culture.
Bio: Heejung Kim is interested in the cultural influences on psychological processes. In particular, her research examines (1) cultural differences in the perception and the effect of self-expression, (2) cultural differences in the use of social support, and (3) the roles of cultural and genetic factors in shaping psychological processes. In so doing, she addresses the implications of these culturally specific cognitive, affective and behavioral tendencies for health and educational outcomes.
Dr. Kim received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Southern California, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Stanford University in 2001. She is currently an associate professor at the Department of Psychological & Brain sciences, UCSB. Her research interests are in cultural psychology, looking at how culture influences a range of psychological processes. Her research has been funded by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation as well as a grant from Social Science Research Council. She was one of the most cited Assistant Professors in Social Psychology (Dialogue, Fall, 2007). She was also named one of the Revolutionary Minds in science by Seed Magazine (August, 2008).
Link to UCSB Cultural Psychology Lab.