Michelle’s research centers on human emotion, personality, and culture/language. Her current scope of research surrounds three crucial areas of human experience: the architecture of emotion, personality and language, and the experience of love in cultural contexts.
Her first line of research concerns the development of a 12-point circumplex model in the English and Chinese languages to describe emotion. More recently, I collaborated with researchers from 33 communities covering 25 languages to examine the architecture of emotion and its relationship with personality and psychological well-being. Using this network, I am initiating an experience-sampling project examining how people in Eastern (Western) culture can (cannot) feel happy and sad at the same time.
Her second line of research concerns the role of language in personality. Do bilinguals have two personalities? My initial findings show that when responding in Chinese (vs. English), the Chinese bilinguals saw themselves more neurotic, more agreeable, and more conscientious. What is primed by the test language? Why does the Chinese language make one perceive herself more neurotic? Both cultural values and reference group are possible candidates accounting for the language effect. She is currently designing studies to test their effects.
Her third line of research is a spin-off from her teaching on the topic of romantic love. It concerns how people of different cultures understand (romantic) love, while engendering diversified understanding by stretching the investigation beyond the Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD) societies to include communities on six different continents.