Culture and social support: neural bases and biological impact

David K. Sherman, Heejung S. Kim, Shelley E. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Social support is an effective means by which people cope with stressful events, and consequently, it beneficially affects health and well-being. Yet there are profound cultural differences in the effectiveness of different types of support and how people use their support networks. In this paper, we examine research on the impact of culture on social support, the neural underpinnings of social support, and how cultural differences in social support seeking are manifested biologically. We focus on cultural factors that may affect individuals' decisions to seek or not to seek social support and how culture moderates the impact of support seeking on biological and psychological health outcomes. We also examine recent research on the interaction between genes and culture in social support use. Discussion centers on the importance of developing an overarching framework of social support that integrates health psychology, cultural psychology, social neuroscience, and genetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-237
Number of pages11
JournalProgress in Brain Research
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Science Foundation Grant BCS-0729532.


  • culture
  • emotion regulation
  • expression
  • social support


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