Dr. Nan's research centers on the science of persuasion, or the study of how individuals form or change beliefs and attitudes, and how these mental states are shaped by persuasive communication. Dr. Nan's work on persuasion is theory-driven, seeking to answer the fundamental question of why people change or do not change their beliefs or attitudes in response to communication messages. Dr. Nan's theoretical work in persuasion has informed additional lines of research that are applied in nature, specifically health communication, misinformation, media effects, and advertising and social marketing. Dr. Nan takes an empirical approach in her research, using primarily quantitative (sometimes qualitative) methodologies, including experiments, correlational surveys, quantitative content analyses, systematic and meta-analytic reviews, and computational methods, to address theoretical and practical challenges in communication.
Almost all of Dr. Nan's scholarship on persuasion intersects with health communication and informs the development of effective health messages to influence health-relevant behavior such as vaccination, smoking, food safety/nutrition, and pro-environment actions. Dr. Nan's recent work addresses challenges in public health communication during global pandemics, such as how to develop more persuasive messages to motivate adaptive pandemic responses (e.g., vaccination, social distancing, mask wearing) amidst rising polarization and health disparities, and how to mitigate the harmful effects of health misinformation.
Dr. Nan has published extensively in her areas of specialization with over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles. Dr. Nan’s work appears in top communication and interdisciplinary journals including Human Communication Research, Communication Research, Health Communication, Journal of Health Communication, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Advertising, Marketing Theory, Health Education, Social Science and Medicine, and Vaccine.
Dr. Nan has been a Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Homeland Security, totaling over $8.5 million. She has served as a PI on three NIH-funded projects on cancer communication strategies targeting under-served populations. Dr. Nan’s current funded research addresses public health messaging on HPV and COVID-19 vaccination.