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Yuan Wang

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Graduate Student, Communication

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Research Expertise

Communication Science
Health Communication

Yuan Wang is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication with a specialization in Communication Science and Social Cognition. Her research areas include health and risk communication. Yuan is particularly interested in designing interventions to mitigate the negative impact of misinformation and exploring how publics seek, process, and share information about contentious issues in the emerging media environment. Prior to attending the University of Maryland, she received a B.A. in Journalism and a B.A. in Law from Renmin University of China, and she received a M.phil. in Communication from The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Publications

Emotion and Virality of Food Safety Risk Communication Messages on Social Media

Study investigates how the emotional tone of food safety risk communication messages predicts message virality on social media.

Communication

Lead: Xiaoli Nan
Contributor(s): Yuan Wang, Leah Waks
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Lead author: Xiaojing Wang Samantha Stanley, Daniel Broniatowski
Dates:

This study investigates how the emotional tone of food safety risk communication messages predicts message virality on social media. Through a professional Internet content tracking service, we gathered news articles written about the 2018 romaine lettuce recall published online between October 30 and November 29, 2018. We retrieved the number of times each article was shared on Twitter and Pinterest, and the number of engagements (shares, likes, and comments) for each article on Facebook and Reddit. We randomly selected 10% of the articles (n = 377) and characterized the emotional tone of each article using machine learning, including emotional characteristics such as discrete emotions, emotional valence, arousal, and dominance. Conveying negative valence, low arousal, and high dominance, as well as anger and sadness emotions were associated with greater virality of articles on social media. Implications of these findings for risk communication in the age of social media are discussed.

Debunking Misinformation About Genetically Modified Food Safety on Social Media: Can Heuristic Cues Mitigate Biased Assimilation?

Study examines whether source cues and social endorsement cues interact with individuals’ preexisting beliefs about genetically modified food safety in influencing misinformation correction effectiveness.

Communication

Lead: Yuan Wang
Dates:

Focusing on debunking misinformation about genetically modified (GM) food safety in a social media context, this study examines whether source cues and social endorsement cues interact with individuals’ preexisting beliefs about GM food safety in influencing misinformation correction effectiveness. Using an experimental design, this study finds that providing corrective messages can effectively counteract the influence of misinformation, especially when the message is from an expert source and receives high social endorsements. Participants evaluate misinformation and corrective messages in a biased way that confirms their preexisting beliefs about GM food safety. However, their initial misperceptions can be reduced when receiving corrective messages.

Social Media Use for Health Purposes: Systematic Review

The review found that new social media usages for health purposes including advancing health research and practice, social mobilization, and facilitating offline health-related services and events.

Communication

Lead: Junhan Chen
Contributor(s): Yuan Wang
Dates:

Background: Social media has been widely used for health-related purposes, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous reviews have summarized social media uses for a specific health purpose such as health interventions, health campaigns, medical education, and disease outbreak surveillance. The most recent comprehensive review of social media uses for health purposes, however, was conducted in 2013. A systematic review that covers various health purposes is needed to reveal the new usages and research gaps that emerge in recent years.

Objective: This study aimed to provide a systematic review of social media uses for health purposes that have been identified in previous studies.

Methods: The researchers searched for peer-reviewed journal articles published between 2006 and 2020 in 12 databases covering medicine, public health, and social science. After coding the articles in terms of publication year, journal area, country, method, social media platform, and social media use for health purposes, the researchers provided a review of social media use for health purposes identified in these articles.

Results: This study summarized 10 social media uses for various health purposes by health institutions, health researchers and practitioners, and the public.

Conclusions: Social media can be used for various health purposes. Several new usages have emerged since 2013 including advancing health research and practice, social mobilization, and facilitating offline health-related services and events. Research gaps exist regarding advancing strategic use of social media based on audience segmentation, evaluating the impact of social media in health interventions, understanding the impact of health identity development, and addressing privacy concerns.

Health literacy and information seeking and sharing during a public health crisis in China

The study investigates how three levels of health literacy were associated with seeking and sharing information of different forms and sources during a public health crisis in China.

Communication

Lead: Junhan Chen
Contributor(s): Yuan Wang
Dates:

Understanding individual differences in communication behaviors is crucial to achieve strategical communication during a public health crisis. To advance this knowledge, the current study explored how Chinese publics with different levels of functional, communicative, and critical health literacy sought and shared information in different forms (i.e. traditional media, social media, and offline word-of-mouth communication) and from different sources (i.e. government, news agencies, health professionals, the company, and other publics) during the Quanjian crisis, a public health crisis happened in China. Findings suggest that higher functional and critical health literacy were associated with higher frequency of seeking and sharing information of almost all forms and sources. However, communicative health literacy was not associated with seeking and sharing information of most forms and sources. The study contributes to crisis communication literature and practice by suggesting health literacy, as an individual factor, can be used to identify influential publics in crisis information transmission. The study also adds to health literacy literature by suggesting the need to develop context-specific operationalizations of communicative health literacy.