Chris Skurka

Media Studies

Chris Skurka

Assistant Professor

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  • Environmental Communication
  • Health Communication
  • Emotion
  • Persuasion
  • Media Effects


  • Bachelor's: Aquinas College
  • Master's: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Ph.D.: Cornell University



Chris Skurka is an assistant professor in the Department of Film Production and Media Studies and is a member of the Science Communication Program faculty. He is also a member of the Penn State Cancer Institute. His research centers on the effectiveness of mass-mediated efforts to promote engagement with health, science, and environmental issues. He is particularly interested in the role of emotion in how audiences respond to such media messages. Often, he studies how media messages can promote civic engagement, such as support for social policies and willingness to engage in political activism. He has studied matters related to climate change communication, anti-tobacco messaging, and communication about the social determinants of health.

Dr. Skurka has received top paper awards from the National Communication Association conference and the International Communication Association conference. In 2019, he received the AEJMC Science, Health, Environment, and Risk Communication Article of the Year Award. His research can be found in journals such as the Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, Science Communication, and Health Communication. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communications.

Dr. Skurka teaches research methods, science communication, and media effects in the Department of Media Studies and the Department of Advertising/Public Relations.

In the News


Skurka, C., Troy, C., Cui, Z, & Gil de Zúiñiga, H. (In press). Efficacy constructs in media use and effects: Organizing and appraising the literature. Annals of the International Communication Association.

Skurka, C., Romero-Canyas, R., Joo, H., & Niederdeppe, J. (2022). Choose your own emotion: Predictors of young adults’ selective exposure to emotion-inducing climate messages. Environmental Communication, 16(3), 424-431.

Skurka, C., Eng, N., & Oliver, M. B. (2022). On the effects and boundaries of awe and humor appeals for pro-environmental engagement. International Journal of Communication, 16, 1-21.

Skurka, C., Romero-Canyas, R., Joo, H., Acup. D., & Niederdeppe, J. (In press). Emotional appeals, climate change, and young adults: A direct replication of Skurka et al. (2018). Human Communication Research, 48(1), 147-156.

Skurka, C., Wheldon, C. W., & Eng, N. (2021). Targeted truth: An experiment testing the efficacy of counterindustry tobacco advertisements targeted to Black individuals and sexual and gender minority individuals. Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Skurka, C., Reynolds-Tylus, T., Quick, B., & Hartman, D. (2021). What’s at stake: Evaluating a Run-Hide-Fight® intervention video through the lens of vested interest theory. Journal of Health Communication.

Skurka, C. (2021). Will it teach them a lesson? Validating a measure of retributive efficacy in social issue activism. Political Behavior, 23(9), 1542–1550.

Skurka, C., Niederdeppe, J., & Winett, L. (2020). There’s more to the story: Both individual and collective policy narratives can increase support for community-level action. International Journal of Communication, 40, 4160-4179.

Skurka, C., Winett, L., Jarman-Miller, H, & Niederdeppe, J. (2020). All things being equal: Distinguishing proportionality and equity in moral reasoning. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 11(3), 374-387.

Skurka, C., Niederdeppe, J., & Nabi, R. (2019). Kimmel on climate: Disentangling the emotional ingredients of a satirical monologue. Science Communication, 41(4), 394-421.

Skurka, C., Kalaji, M., Dorf, M., Kemp, D., Greiner Safi, A., Byrne, S.,…Niederdeppe, J. (2019). Independent or synergistic? Effects of varying size and using pictorial images in tobacco health warning labels. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 198, 87-94.

Skurka, C. (2018). You mad? Using anger appeals to promote activism intentions and policy support in the context of sugary drink marketing to kids. Health Communication, 34(14), 1775-1787.

Skurka, C., Niederdeppe, J., Romero-Canyas, R., & Acup, D. (2018). Pathways of influence in emotional appeals: Benefits and tradeoffs of using fear or humor to promote climate change-related intentions and risk perceptions. Journal of Communication, 68, 169-193.


Chris Skurka
222 Carnegie Building