Does expressing your emotions raise or lower your blood pressure? The answer depends on cultural context

Emily A. Butler, Tiane L. Lee, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

79 Scopus citations


Emotion-expressive behavior is often but not always inversely related to physiological responding. To test the hypothesis that cultural context moderates the relationship between expressivity and physiological responding, the authors have Asian American and European American women engage in face-to-face conversations about a distressing film in same-ethnicity dyads. Blood pressure is measured continuously, and emotional expressivity is rated from reviewing videotapes. Results indicate that emotion-expressive behavior is inversely related to blood pressure in European American dyads, but the reverse was true in Asian American dyads in which there is a trend toward a positive association. These results suggest that the links between emotion-expressive behavior and physiological responding may depend on cultural context. One possible explanation for this effect may be that cultural contexts shape the meaning that individuals give to emotional expressions that occur during social interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-517
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2009



  • Asian
  • Blood pressure
  • Culture
  • Emotion expression
  • European

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

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