John Christensen, PhD

Assistant Professor, Communication (Affiliate)

Research Overview

The majority of my research seeks to reduce racial minority and LGBT health disparities through the use of new communication technologies – primarily within the domains of nutrition, substance abuse, and HIV-prevention. I am particularly interested in the production and evaluation of interactive movies, video games, and virtual reality applications that provide individuals with experience making healthy, contextualized choices in virtual worlds simulating real-life social interaction. Other areas of interest include message framing, message tailoring, and the roles of emotion and individual difference constructs in persuasive health communication. Current projects include (1) the evaluation of a virtual nightclub designed to prevent risky alcohol, drug, and sexual decisions among late adolescent MSM (2) the development of a series of mobile phone applications designed to encourage HIV testing, and (3) the development of a web-based virtual grocery store that communicates the risks of an unhealthy diet while providing players with an opportunity to practice making healthier food purchase decisions.


PhD, University of Southern California (2011, Social Psychology)
MA, University of Southern California (2007, Social Psychology)
BA, University of Southern California (2003, Psychology)

Recent Publications

Contact Information
Mailing AddressDepartment of Communication
850 Bolton Road, Unit 1085
(Phillips Communication Sciences Building, PCSB)
Storrs, CT 06269-1085