September 2022 Spotlight – Lixian Cui, PhD

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Lixian Cui ( as our member in the spotlight. Dr. Cui is an Assitant Professor of Psychology at New York University Shanghai and a Global Network Assitant Professor at New York University. His research is focused on understanding child and adolescent socio-emotional development in family, peer, and cultural contexts, particularly with a focus on emotion socialization processes and psychophysiological processes (e.g., cortisol, respiratory sinus arrhythmia) during social interactions.

Can you write a couple of sentences on some aspect of your career development: feel free to pick one or any other related question among these: a) what drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) who was an important mentor to you in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field? c) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in your area? 

  • My research interest in the field of emotional and social development has been nurtured throughout my graduate studies in China and the US. How to facilitate the emotional wellbeing of children, adolescents, and adults fascinated me when I started graduate school at Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU) in Guangzhou, China. Since then, I started to learn about human emotions, and culture and emotions. I really appreciate Dr. Chong-Fang Yang’s teaching at SYSU. It was her indigenous perspective in understanding how traditional culture influence how people behave in contemporary Chinese societies that intrigued me the most. I was particularly interested in understanding how Chinese and Asian people express and experience emotions. When I was mentored by Drs. Niobe Way, Xinyin Chen, and Hirokazu Yoshikawa in Nanjing, China, I found that understanding emotional and social development was a great way to achieve my goal of facilitating family wellbeing. Encouraged by these prestigious scholars, I went to the US and obtained my doctoral degree from Oklahoma State University (OSU), where I studied emotion regulation and emotion socialization with Dr. Amanda Sheffield Morris. I received systematic theoretical and methodological training at OSU and was heavily influenced by Dr. Laurence Steinberg and Dr. Nancy Eisenberg. The rigorous training at OSU and my mentor Amanda’s guidance really have made me who I am today. Regarding advice or tips to someone starting out in the field, I would emphasize three things that helped me the most: following your genuine interests, working hard to sharpen your research skills, and keeping on your work no matter what.

A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it.  Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other [understudied?] populations; d) practice or policy relevance. 

  • Recently, we had a manuscript accepted by Development and Psychopathology on Chinese parents’ emotion socialization practices titled “Prospective within-family bidirectional effects between parental emotion socialization practices and Chinese adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment” out of our longitudinal project in Nanjing, China. Emotion expression has been appreciated in traditional Chinese culture via poetry, literature, and the arts, but has been devalued in recent Chinese history. Chinese parents in the late 20th century have been reported to see the discussion of emotions as irrelevant and insignificant and engage in little emotional communication with children. However, in contemporary China, with the rapid social and economic changes, Chinese parents are becoming more and more concerned about their children’s social and emotional competencies and are increasingly involved in their children’s social and emotional lives, such as allowing autonomy, engaging in affective communications, encouraging emotion expression, and teaching specific emotion regulation strategies. Our study went beyond the current emotion socialization literature and incorporated multi-informant data, disentangled the within-family from the between-family effects and examined bidirectional effects between parental emotion socialization practices and Chinese adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment using a random intercept cross-lagged panel model. We found strong evidence of child-drive effects such that adolescents’ depressive symptoms predicted decreases in parental positive emotion socialization practices, as well as robust bidirectional associations between adolescent self-esteem and parental emotion socialization practices. How parents influence their children’s emotional competence and how children affect parenting in contemporary Chinese contexts and other Asian populations are apparently understudied. I’d like to continue devoting my efforts to study emotion regulation and emotion socialization issues in these populations.

If you have any thoughts about your experiences with the Asian Caucus, that would be great!  These can be just for the Caucus leadership to know, and/or a message to the Caucus community. 

  • The SRCD Asian Caucus really increases the awareness of researchers focusing on Asian and Asian American children and youth in and out of the SRCD community. The Caucus also provides a wonderful platform for researchers to mingle and collaborate. As an emerging scholar, I got to know and learn from great pioneering scholars in my field through the Asian Caucus, to name just a few, Drs. Xiaojia Ge, Charissa Cheah, Jin Li, Qing Zhou, Jeffrey Liew, Qi Wang, and Xin Feng, as well as wonderful peers. Such community support really encourages me to go further along my career path.

Any upcoming talks or presentations we should know about?

  • It is really a bummer that the COVID-19 pandemic has made international travel for academic conferences difficult. I am looking forward to meeting everyone in person at SRCD, SRA, and ISSBD conferences soon.

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