Bu Zhong

Journalism, Media Effects Lab

Bu Zhong



Artificial humans

Digitally mediated communication

Health behavior change

Healthcare outcomes

Interactive media

Information processing

Media effect research

Media psychology

Social media communication

Socially responsible AI

Symptom management of chronic diseases


  • B.J.: China School of Journalism, Beijing
  • M.A.: University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
  • Ph.D.: University of Maryland, College Park, MD




Dr. Bu Zhong is a tenured full professor at the Bellisario College of Communications and an affiliate professor at the College of Information Sciences and Technology, The Pennsylvania State University. He is also a faculty affiliate at the Center for Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence (CSRAI), Center for Social Data Analytics (C-SoDA), Media Effects Research Lab, Science Communication Program, Information Communication for Development Consortium (ICT4D), and Consortium on Substance Use and Addiction (CSUA). He is the former president of the Chinese Communication Association and former head of the Mass Communication and Society Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). Currently, he is the Senior Editor of Computers in Human Behavior, a grant reviewer for the U.S. National Science Foundation FastLane, and the Hong Kong Research Grant Council.


His research shines a light on the overlooked effects of digital technology and interactive media. He applies decision-making theories to the analysis of information processing and its effects on behavior, cognition, mental health, and well-being. He explores human-technology interactions as a complex adaptive system, in which the complexity of social systems and health disparities driven by digital transformation has been extensively scrutinized. Special attention has been paid to research projects with profound social consequences and implications. Overall, his research addresses human communication and information processing powered by technology, but not technology per se. His research has been published in leading journals in communication studies, h,ealth and information sciences, such as Journal of Communication, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Computers in Human Behavior, International Journal of Information Management, Journal of Internet Medical Research, and Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. In 2022, he published the book Social Media Communication: Trends and Theories (Wiley-Blackwell).


At Penn State, he teaches journalism and social media analytics, news media ethics, international mass communication, world media system, and TV news reporting. In recent years, he mainly teaches courses he created at Penn State, including “COMM 365 – Social Media Communication and Strategies” for undergraduates, “COMM 835 – Social Media Communication” for M.A. students at the Penn State World Campus, and “COMM597 – Social Media Research Seminar” for Ph.D. students, which attracts doctoral students from other Penn State colleges, including the College of Information Sciences and Technology, Smeal College of Business, and College of the Liberal Arts.

Professional Experience

Before he joined the Penn State faculty, he worked as a journalist for over a decade on both sides of the Pacific, for China Daily in Beijing, CNN Bureau in Washington D.C., and CNN/USA in Atlanta. He holds a Ph.D. degree from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland – College Park, a master's degree from Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri – Columbia, and a B.J. from China School of Journalism, Beijing, China.


In the News


Selected Publications
  • Zhong, B. (2022). Social media communication: Trends and theories. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Zhong, B., Sun, T., & Hu, B. (2022). Information processing on mobile apps: A multilevel analysis of personality and behavioral traits that predict the credibility of smartphone content. China Media Research, 18(2), 1-14.
  • Xie, L., Pinto, J., & Zhong, B. (2022). Building community resilience on social media to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Computers in Human Behavior, 133, 1-15, Article 107294. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2022.107294
  • Zhong, B., Sun, T., Forde, S., & Payne, G. J. (2022). More than politics: How personality trait and media technology use affect vote likelihood during the 2020 US presidential election. American Behavioral Scientist, 66(3), 357-375. https://doi.org/10.1177/000276.
  • Zhong, B., Wang, X., & Yang, F. (2021). More than an apple: Better working lunch enhances bus drivers’ work performance and well-being. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 27(3), 874–883. https://doi.org/10.1080/108035.


Bu Zhong
7 Carnegie Building