Introduction: Depression is a mood disorder that affects a significant proportion of the population worldwide. In Malaysia and Australia, the number of people diagnosed with depression is on the rise. It has been found that impairments in emotion processing and emotion regulation play a role in the development and maintenance of depression. This study is based on Matsumoto and Hwang's biocultural model of emotion and Triandis' Subjective Culture model. It aims to investigate the influence of culture on emotion processing among Malaysians and Australians with and without major depressive disorder (MDD). Methods and analysis: This study will adopt a between-group design. Participants will include Malaysian Malays and Caucasian Australians with and without MDD (N=320). There will be four tasks involved in this study, namely: (1) the facial emotion recognition task, (2) the biological motion task, (3) the subjective experience task and (4) the emotion meaning task. It is hypothesised that there will be cultural differences in how participants with and without MDD respond to these emotion tasks and that, pan-culturally, MDD will influence accuracy rates in the facial emotion recognition task and the biological motion task. Ethics and dissemination: This study is approved by the Universiti Putra Malaysia Research Ethics Committee (JKEUPM) and the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC). Permission to conduct the study has also been obtained from the National Medical Research Register (NMRR; NMRR-15-2314-26919). On completion of the study, data will be kept by Universiti Putra Malaysia for a specific period of time before they are destroyed. Data will be published in a collective manner in the form of journal articles with no reference to a specific individual.