Subjective social status and inflammation: The role of culture and anger control

Jose C. Yong*, Andree Hartanto, Jacinth J. X. Tan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Research on subjective social status (SSS) and inflammation risk suffers from a lack of cross-cultural data as well as inconsistent findings between SSS and the biomarker C-reactive protein (CRP). The current study addressed these issues by examining possible cultural differences in the SSS-CRP link with anger control as an underlying mechanism while controlling for potential confounds such as wealth, education, and health factors. Method: Participants comprised 1,435 adults from the Biomarker Project of the MIDUS (American) and MIDJA (Japanese) studies. Participants’ SSS and tendency to control anger were assessed through surveys, and their CRP levels were measured through fasting blood samples. Results: Results showed that for Americans, CRP levels increased as SSS decreased, but for the Japanese, there was no relationship between SSS and CRP. Furthermore, this moderating effect of culture was mediated by anger control such that Americans controlled their anger less as SSS decreased, which then predicted higher levels of CRP, whereas the Japanese controlled their anger less as SSS increased, but this relationship did not predict CRP levels. These findings were specific to anger control (and not other varieties of anger) and robust to adjustment for a variety of potential confounds. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that culture exerts a moderating effect on the relationship between SSS and CRP, and this effect occurs through cultural differences in how SSS relates to anger control. The current study also highlights the need to consider cultural factors and psychosocial processes in further research on SSS and health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-70
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date17 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


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