Zhan Xu

Graduate Student, Communication (Affiliate)

Research Overview

The majority of my research examine the effectiveness of crisis and risk messages delivered through the use of new communication technologies – particularly within the health domain. For example, my colleagues and I conducted several experiments using robots to deliver risk information, such as food safety and environmental hazards, which offer some insight into the effectiveness of robot delivery platforms in bringing risk messages to affected publics.

Besides technology, my research also focuses on the role of emotion in health-related decision-making and information processing. For example, I conducted a meta-analysis of guilt appeal messages used in health studies. I also did two systematic reviews on health studies regarding the interaction between emotions and cognitions in risk assessments and judgements.

In another line of work, I am currently working with Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) on two funded research examining the mood change among patients with triple negative metastatic breast cancer as well as investigating the communication between patients and caregivers.


Ph.D. Candidate in Communication, University of Connecticut
M.S. in Communication Management, University of Southern California, 2010
B.A. in Journalism, Nanjing University, China, 2009

Featured Publications

Xu, Z., & Guo, H. (Accepted). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of guilt on health related attitudes and intentions. Manuscript submitted to Health Communication
Lin, C. A, & Xu, Z. (Accepted). Watching TV series with horror content: audience attributes, motivations, involvement and enjoyment. Manuscript submitted to Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media
Lachlan, K. A., Spence, P. R., Rainear, A., Fishlock, J., Xu, Z., & Vanco, B. (2016). You’re my only hope: An initial exploration of the effectiveness of robotic platforms in engendering learning about crises and risks. Computers in Human Behavior, 65, 606–611.
Buck, R., & Xu, Z. (forthcoming). The affective and cognitive neuroscience of empathy. In The physiology of interpersonal communication. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press
Lachlan, K. A., Spence, P. R., Rainear, A., Xu, Z., et al. (forthcoming). In Data Collection: Methods, Ethical Issues and Future Directions. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Lachlan, K. A., Spence, P. R., Rainear, A., Vanco, B., Fishlock, J., & Xu, Z. (forthcoming). In Robotics: Applications, Technology, and Future Directions. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Xu, Z., & Xin, Z. (2013). Chinese rural migrants’ image in news pictures. Press Circles, 6, 29-37. ISSN1007-2438

Contact Information
Mailing AddressCommunication Department
337 Mansfield Road
Unit 1259
Storrs, CT 06269-1259