Position title: Assistant Professor
Website: Sedona Chinn's website
320 Hiram Smith Hall
Sedona Chinn is an assistant professor in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Chinn’s teaching responsibilities include courses in misinformation and health communication.
Dr. Chinn researches how individuals make sense of competing claims about science, health, and the environment, as well as how social influence via new media affect perceptions of credibility and expertise.
One line of research investigates the prevalence and effects of scientific disagreements in media to better understand when and why people question science. In this research, she has used computational content-analytic methods to measure politicization and polarization in climate change news and COVID-19 news. In another study, Dr. Chinn combined supervised machine learning and dictionary methods to document mentions of scientific agreement, disagreement, and denial in 30 years of climate change news. She pairs large-scale content analyses with experimental work to explore how scientific agreement and disagreement affect science attitudes. In experimental work, Dr. Chinn has investigated effects of civil and uncivil scientific disagreement messages, as well as the efficacy of consensus messages in the context of climate change.
Related work concerns the social dynamics surrounding polarization of science. Part of this work explores features and affordances of social media platforms that facilitate and hinder the spread of misinformation online. Ongoing work draws on social identity theories and science populism to explain recent hostility toward scientific experts by some amid generally high levels of trust in scientists.
Dr. Chinn also researches how social media influence perceptions of expertise and accuracy of beliefs surrounding science and health. Ongoing work explores ‘Do Your Own Research’ narratives and how aspirational wellness content on social media is associated with perceptions of experts, health beliefs, and political attitudes. In addition, USDA Hatch-funded research is currently investigating how Instagram influencers inform beliefs about nutrition and agriculture. This line of work explores how features of social media messages and social influence cultivate credibility of influential opinion leaders online in ways that affect science-relevant attitudes.
Dr. Chinn’s research has been published in Climatic Change, Science Communication, Environmental Communication, Public Understanding of Science, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, among others.
She received her Ph.D. in Communication and Media from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in International Relations (minors in French and Asian Studies) from Saint Anselm College.