I am a health communication scholar. My research interest is in explaining people’s health behavioral decisions as a function of how they use information that is relevant to their health. My primary focus is on mental health communication, or more specifically, the intersection of mental health and strategic communication. My research starts with the proposition that a thorough understanding of the cognitive characteristics of mental illnesses is required for designing messages that help people with mental illness. Messages that are not informed by a deep understanding of mental illnesses can harm the very people those messages are supposed to help.   

I take a social scientific perspective on research. Whereas I take the view that the complex nature of health communication questions necessarily makes my field a transdisciplinary one, my approach to health communication begins with a set of psychological contentions. I see the health communication-behavior relation as a process in which health information effects on health behavior are mediated by attentional and subsequent affective and cognitive processes. I contend (as have others) that those processes are affected by self-protective motivations that ironically lead people to often disregard health promotion messages.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Social psychology, University of Groningen, the Netherlands, 1995 - 1999
  • Postdoctoral fellowship: Health communication, UPenn, Annenberg School for Communication, 2000 - 2001


  • Mental health communication
  • Health communication
  • Motivational bases of health behavior
  • Reasoned action theory
  • Persuasion