dr. Christin Scholz (board)

  • Faculteit der Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen
    Programme group: Persuasive Communication
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
    1018 WV Amsterdam
  • c.scholz@uva.nl

Naam: Dr. Christin Scholz (board)
PhD: 2018, University of Pennsylvania
Promotor: Prof. Emily B. Falk
Co-promotor(s): Prof. Robert Hornik, Prof. Joseph N. Cappella
MSc: 2013, University of Amsterdam, 2015 University of Pennsylvania
Specialiteiten: social media, social interactions, mass media interventions, livestyle, communication neuroscience

Research: My research examines the role of social interactions between individuals in the diffusion of information and the development of large-scale message effects in the context of health-related outcomes. To understand the complex interplay between social forces and message effects, I tailor multi-methodological approaches including neuroscientific methods like fMRI and social science techniques such as observational geolocation tracking, field experimentation, and survey methods to capture both detailed psychological mechanisms and real-world behavior. Using these methods, I have studied, among others, the neural and psychological mechanisms of decisions to share health-related information with others, the role played by these mechanisms in population-level sharing behavior, and the relationship between neural message processing and real-world effects of interpersonal communication on drinking behavior. Current projects focus on questions such as: How do interpersonal communication and social relationships influence the effectiveness of population-level health messaging and how can we design messages that optimize these social processes?; How does neural coupling between those who share information and their receivers impact the diffusion of information and the development population-level message effects?; What is the effect of repeated, real-world exposure to smoking cues on smoker’s cigarette craving and neural cue reactivity?
My work has been supported by multiple international grants including an NWO Veni from the Dutch Science Foundation and a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship from the European Commission.
Project: Below are a few examples of my ongoing research projects:

  • Healthy and Unhealthy Influences on Binge Drinking: A Study Into Neural Decision-Making Mechanisms (personal NWO VENI & EuropeanCommission Marie Curie grants)

In daily life, people are exposed to a multitude of health-related information, including information promoting health (e.g. public health campaigns that discourage binge drinking), but also information that may encourage unhealthy behavior (e.g. social media posts from peers that glorify drinking). Such conflicting information may hamper the effectiveness of public health campaigns, but so far, we know little about (1) the types of conflicting content that are present in information environments like social media, (2) the effects of being exposed to conflicting content on decision making and behavior, and (3) the mechanisms through which conflicting content affects behavior.
In this project, we use recent insights from neuroimaging, digital analytics and communication science to map conflicting alcohol content present on the social media accounts of young adults, understand the neural mechanisms of decision-making after exposure to conflicting content, and study the effects of these processes on alcohol consumption in a field experiment.

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Christin Scholz
  • Status: in data collection
  • Subsidiegever: Nederlandse organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO); European Commission


  • Healthy Talk: Manipulating Interpersonal Communication to Increase Physical Activity

The conversations we have with other people profoundly influence our view of the world and our daily behaviors. Research shows, for instance, that such conversations can change the way in which we are persuaded by messages such as health campaigns (Jeong & Bae, 2018). Campaigns that are talked about more often may reach larger audiences, because these conversations expose individuals to campaign ideas that would not have seen them otherwise. In addition, conversations can amplify the effects of campaigns, especially if people we know and trust endorse the campaign message (e.g. Hendriks, van den Putte & de Bruijn, 2015; Hornik & Yanovitzky, 2003).

In this pre-registered project (https://osf.io/6us7g/), we administer a 2-week media message intervention in which participants receive daily messages designed to increase physical activity. In addition, we test a novel intervention designed to encourage daily interpersonal communication about these messages. We use FitBits to measure physical activity throughout the day and daily mobile diaries sent to participants’ mobile phones to assess interpersonal communication with a high temporal frequency.

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Christin Scholz
  • Status: in data collection
  • Subsidiegever: Amsterdam School of Communication Research


  • Using Neuroscience to Causally Change Message Effectiveness

Prior neuroimaging work suggests that media messages which are more self- and socially relevant are more successful in inspiring attitude and behavior change in their receivers (e.g. Scholz & Falk, 2018). In this project, we test causal manipulations of self- and social message relevance on brain activity and subsequent real-world message effects.
We are working on this project in collaboration with the Communication Neuroscience Lab/ at the University of Pennsylvania and Charles River Analytics/.

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Christin Scholz
  • Status: in data collection
  • Subsidiegever: DARPA