Dr. Emma E. Buchtel is Associate Professor and Associate Head (International Engagement) in the Department of Psychology and Member of the Centre for Psychosocial Health at the Education University of Hong Kong.
Dr. Buchtel received her PhD in cultural psychology (social/personality area; quantitative minor) from the University of British Columbia in 2009, and her B.A. from Yale University in 1999. In between, she spent four years in Changsha and Beijing, teaching English at the high school and university levels and learning Mandarin Chinese.
She seeks to explore and deepen our understanding of Chinese cultural influences on psychology, including moral concepts, values, motivation and reasoning styles, and their implications for Western theories. Our lab uses interdisciplinary approaches, multiple/mixed methods with cross-cultural data (e.g. psychophysiological data, qualitative data, quantitative surveys and experiments) and adopts open-science practices.
Projects aiming to explore cross-cultural differences in perceptions of wearing masks, raise awareness of more healthy and environmentally friendly ways of wearing masks, and educate about cultural differences without stereotyping.
Research on moral issues relevant to Chinese society and Confucian philosophy, seeking to deepen our understanding of cross cultural differences and similarities in moral concepts, values and reasoning styles.
Projects exploring how to help students develop intercultural skills, including discussion and perspective taking skills, in academic learning.
Teaching & Learning
Moral expressions in
Hong Kong, New Zealand,
and the United Kingdom:
Cultural similarities and differences in how affective facial muscle activity predicts judgments
Can we find out if someone judges a behavior as immoral from just their facial muscle movements? We used EMG to test this in Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the U.K. Overall, raising the lip and scrunching up the eyebrows meant more negative judgments, while only in Hong Kong a "blanking" of the forehead was associated with negativity judgments.
Buchtel, E. E., Ng, L. C. Y., Bidwell, A., & Cannon, P. R. (2022). Moral expressions in Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the U.K.: Cultural similarities and differences in how affective facial muscle activity predicts judgments. Emotion, 22(3), 511-525. doi: 10.1037/emo0000766.
The joy of obligation:
Human cultural worldviews can enhance the rewards of meeting obligations
How can culture help us become moral? In this commentary, using my recently published research on Chinese vs. Western comparisons of how people are motivated by obligations, I argue that culture can create reward systems that make it more likely for us to get there.
Buchtel, E. E. (2020). The joy of obligation: Human cultural worldviews can enhance the rewards of meeting obligations. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 43, e63. doi:10.1017/S0140525X19002607.
Assessing the similarity of injunctive norm profiles across different social roles:
The effect of closeness and status in the United States and China
How should you act in a restaurant? Depends on where you are-- and who you are talking to! Check out Table 4 and 5 especially, which shows the most and least-commonly mentioned appropriate behaviors for Chinese and American dyads, separated by whether the person is close or distant to their table partner (e.g. friends vs. strangers), and whether the person is low, high, or equal status to their partner (e.g. a grandson, a grandfather, or a classmate).
Buchtel, E. E., Ma, P. P. L, & Guan, Y. (2019). Assessing the similarity of injunctive norm profiles across different social roles: The effect of closeness and status in the United States and China. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 50(10), 1140-1160. doi:10.1177/0022022119871357