Professor Janxin Leu

(It's pronounced "Jen-shing Loo.")

Office: Guthrie 217
Phone: (206) 616-1371
Fax: (206) 685-3175
E-mail: janleu@uw.edu

I am a cultural psychologist who studies immigrant mental health, biculturalism/multiple social identities, and cultural influences on emotion and cognition. I am an Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Washington and the Associate Director of Immigrant Families’ Diversity and Development at the Center for Child and Family Well-Being

My work has been funded by NIH, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation, the Institute for Ethnic Studies in the US, and the UW Royalty Research Fund. I have published in top journals, such as Social Science & Medicine, Emotion, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Previously, I was a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar, represented the U.S. Department of Education as an exchange scholar at Peking University (China), and was trained in social psychology and cognitive anthropology at the University of Michigan, Stanford, and Oxford.  I created the curriculum for the first Chinese American bicultural preschool animation show, "Ni hao, Kai-lan" for Nickelodeon, Jr.  I have also tried to improve literacy in rural China by helping my family build over 5,000 libraries through their non-profit, Education & Science Society.


I spend my time thinking about two main questions:

Question 1: How do cultural contexts influence the emotions and social cognition of diverse groups?

For example, how does culture influence the expression, meaning, and function of positive emotion?  Does a smiling face mean the same thing in the US as it does in Japan? Are positive emotions just as "positive" across cultures?  My research suggests that in cultural contexts influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism (e.g., East Asian communities), the emotional goal is not to maximize good feelings but to moderate extreme feelings, even positive ones!  I have shown that positive emotions are not as protective against depression among immigrant Asians compared with European Americans. 

Question 2: How do people with multiple, intersecting identities, like biculturals and immigrants, negotiate their behavior in different settings? 

Immigrant youth often negotiate being members of two cultures by frame-switching, adapting their behavior to the norms of one cultural group in one situation, and to a second culture in a different situation.   In which situations does frame-switching elicit stress or confer psychological advantages?

Check out the "Projects" page to learn more!



NIH R03 grant awarded to examine stress and moral judgment variation among immigrant Asian youth!
Dec 15, 2011 10:16 AM
Jennifer Wang interviewed for UW Daily on Diversity among Graduate Students
Dec 6, 2011 11:00 AM
Northwest Asian Weekly
Sep 7, 2011 10:03 AM
Seattle Times coverage
Jun 20, 2011 12:58 PM
Time Magazine coverage of research
May 5, 2011 11:02 AM
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