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Psychology talk with Cynthia Levine, PhD
WhenFriday, Jan 26, 2018, 12:30 – 1:50 p.m.
Campus locationGuthrie Hall (GTH)
Campus room57
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsDepartment of Psychology……

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

Is it healthier to influence the world or adjust to the situation? Cultural differences in healthy responses to adversity.
Stressful life experiences are linked to a range of poor health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases of aging. However, not everyone who encounters adversity gets sick, and research has increasingly focused on identifying factors that promote resilience. In this talk, Dr. Levine will present research examining cultural differences in which specific approaches to coping with adversity protect health. She shows that people are healthier when they cope with adversity in ways that fit with the norms of their cultural context. First, she will present analyses from two large representative datasets, the Midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS) and Midlife in Japan (MIDJA) studies, linking culturally normative coping strategies to lower levels of inflammation, a marker of cardiovascular disease risk. Specifically, she shows that in the U.S., an independent cultural context that values exerting control and influencing the environment, people who have recently experienced adversity have better health when they are high in primary control (i.e., change the situation to suit their needs). In contrast, in Japan, an interdependent cultural context that emphasizes attention to others and to the environment, people who have recently experienced adversity have better health when they are high in secondary control (i.e., adjust themselves to the environment). Next, she will present plans for a future intervention to test whether promoting culturally-relevant coping strategies improves health outcomes among people with chronic illnesses. Taken together, these studies will underscore the idea that there are multiple effective ways to cope with adversity and suggest that the extent to which specific coping strategies are “good” or “healthy” depends on the cultural context.

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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