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  • Emotions play key role on social media during outbreaks, study suggests

    Illinois professor Sang-Hwa Oh led a study of social media use during a 2015 MERS outbreak in South Korea.

    Sang-Hwa Oh became interested in how governments communicate about risk through the media when observing a protest in her native South Korea 12 years ago regarding mad cow disease. When a MERS outbreak in 2015 also brought about serious public concerns, the professor in advertising sought to study how people used social media during the event and the role of emotion in influencing their behavior.

    Photo by Fred Zwicky


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  • Editor’s notes:

    To reach Sang-Hwa Oh, a professor in the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising at Illinois, email

    The paper “The effects of social media use on preventive behaviors during infectious disease outbreaks: the mediating role of self-relevant emotions and public risk perception,” published by the journal Health Communication, is available online or from the News Bureau.

    Co-authors are Seo Yoon Lee, a doctoral student in the Institute of Communications Research at Illinois, and Changhyun Han, a postdoctoral student in the Journalism and Culture Institute at Sogang University, Seoul, South Korea.

    DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2020.1724639