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 my 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.

 

Persuasion is a complex psychological process shaped by the characteristics of the individuals, the situations they are in, and the features of the persuasive messages. Over the years, Dr. Nan has pursued a systematic program of research on persuasion. Dr. Nan and her collaborators have examined the psychological determinants of beliefs and attitudes (e.g., moral foundations, time perspective, risk perceptions), the persuasive effects of key message features such as gain vs. loss framing, short- vs. long-term framing, narrative vs. didactic messages, and emotional appeals, as well as the influence of situational factors such as incidental affect and self-affirmation on responses to persuasive messages. 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 consumption, 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.