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Psychology lecture with Cynthia Levine, PhD
WhenThursday, Jan 25, 2018, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
WhereCenter for Child and Family Well-being (CCFW)
Campus roomRoom 151
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsDepartment of Psychology……

Cynthia Levine
IPR Postdoctoral Fellow
Northwestern Institute for Policy Research
Northwestern University

Cultural Fit: Its Role in Health and Health Disparities
Dr. Levine's research shows that health and well-being depend upon cultural fit—the match between the pervasive ideas and norms in a context and characteristics of an individual. In three studies, using large representative datasets and community samples, she shows that people who experience cultural fit behave in healthier ways and have physiological markers that indicate lower risk for cardiovascular disease. First, looking at fit with one’s national culture, she shows that Americans who fit the mainstream American cultural norm of independence and Japanese who fit the mainstream Japanese cultural norm of interdependence eat a healthier diet. Next, she turns to comparisons of groups within a country. Dr. Levine demonstrates that higher SES individuals who are more independent—that is, who fit with norms in higher SES contexts—and lower SES individuals who are more interdependent—that is, who fit with norms in lower SES contexts—have lower levels of allostatic load, a marker of biological risk across multiple systems in the body. Finally, she extends the operationalization of fit beyond the distinction between independence and interdependence by showing that students of color, whom previous research shows tend to value diversity, are healthier when they attend schools that value diversity. Specifically, they have fewer metabolic syndrome signs and lower levels of inflammation, both indicators of decreased cardiovascular disease risk. Across diverse settings with different indicators of health, these studies highlight the previously unexplored role of cultural fit in health and suggest that interventions to improve cultural fit may help to reduce health disparities.

Cynthia Levine is a candidate for a faculty position in the Social and Personality area in the Department of Psychology. Faculty host: Sapna Cheryan:

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