Cuihua (Cindy) Shen

Cuihua Shen Portrait

Position Title

363 Kerr Hall


  • Ph.D., Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, 2010
  • M.A., Communication and New Media, National University of Singapore, 2005
  • B.A., English Literature & Information Systems, Zhejiang University, 2003


Cuihua (Cindy) Shen (PhD, University of Southern California) is a professor of communication at UC Davis, a co-founder of the Computational Communication Research lab, and a faculty affiliate at the Computational Social Science Designated Emphasis as well as the East Asian Studies program. Her current research focuses on computational social science and multimodal (mis)information in AI-mediated environments. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Facebook, and Google Cloud. She is a recipient of numerous top paper awards as well as a Fulbright US Scholar Award.  

Currently, Dr Shen serves as an Associate Editor at Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication and a Founding Associate Editor at Computational Communication Research. She is also the past chair of the Computational Methods Division of the International Communication Association (between 2017-2022). 

For a full list of publications, please refer to her website and Google Scholar profile.

Research Focus

Dr Shen's research and teaching interests are broadly focused on two areas. The first is the structure and impact of social networks in various online platforms. These sites include social networking apps (such as Facebook and WeChat), Massively Multiplayer Online Games (such as EverQuest II, World of Tanks, Eve Online), and other online communities designed for collaborative peer production, social support and political discussion. A second and more recent line of research is the perception, diffusion and intervention of multimodal misinformation in AI-mediated information ecosystems (see a recent paper here). Her work on misinformation has been funded by the National Science Foundation and Facebook. 

Methodologically, Dr Shen's research frequently utilizes digital footprint data (so-called "big data"), and often in combination with "smaller data" collected from surveys and experiments. 

Dr Shen's work has regularly appeared in journals such as Journal of CommunicationCommunication Research, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Social Networks, and New Media & Society. She co-edited the book Predicting Real World Behaviors From Virtual World Data (Springer). Her work has received numerous top paper awards and has been featured on major news outlets such as Wired, MSNBC, Reuters, ABC and Fox News.


  • Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award, Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore, Singapore
  • Top Faculty Poster Award, “Temporal collective legitimacy of support seeking and received social support on social media during public health crisis.” International Communication Association Annual Convention
  • Top Paper Award, “Viral Vitriol: Predictors and Contagion of Toxicity in World of Tanks,” International Communication Association Annual Convention, Communication and Technology Division
  • Top Paper Award, “Social Capital, Social Support, and Language Use in Online Depression Forum,” International Communication Association Annual Convention, Interpersonal Communication Division
  • Top Paper Award, “Viral Vitriol: Predictors and Contagion of Toxicity in World of Tanks,” International Communication Association Annual Convention, Communication and Technology Division
  • Carolyn Dexter Award Nominee, "The Effects of Diversity and Repeat Collaboration on Performance in Distributed Nanoscientist Teams," Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Organizational Communication & Information Systems Division
  • Top Paper Award, "The Multilevel Impact of Aging: Age, Evolution, and Phase Change in the Child Rights NGO Network," International Communication Association Annual Convention, Organizational Communication Division
  • Top Paper Award, "Multimodality and interactivity: Connecting properties of serious games with learning outcomes," International Communication Association Annual Convention, Game Studies Division

Selected Publications

  • Wolff, G. H.*, & Shen, C. (2024, in press). Social Live-Streaming Use and Well-Being: Examining Participation, Financial Commitment, Social Capital, and Psychological Well-Being on Social Science Computer Review, 0(0). PDF
  • Li, P., Cho, H., Shen, C., Kong, H*. (2024). From Context Adaptation to Context Restoration: Strategies, Motivations and Decision Rules of Managing Context Collapse on WeChat. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 29(1). https://doi: 10.1093/jcmc/zmad043 PDF
  • Gong, X*, Huskey, R., Xue, H*, Shen, C., & Frey, S. (2023). Broadcast Information Diffusion Processes on Social Media Networks: Exogenous Events Lead to More Integrated Public Discourse. Journal of Communication. PDF
  • Peng, Y., Lu, Y*, & Shen, C. (2023). An Agenda for Studying Credibility Perceptions of Visual Misinformation. Political Communication, 1-13. doi: 10.1080/10584609.2023.2175398 PDF
  • Lu, Y*. & Shen, C. (2023). Unpacking multimodal fact-checking: Features and engagement of fact-checking videos on Chinese TikTok (Douyin). Social Media + Society, 9(1), doi:10.1177/20563051221150406 PDF
  • Chen, A., Chen, K., Zhang, J., Meng, J., & Shen, C. (2022). When National Identity Meets Conspiracies: The Contagion of Identity Language in Public Participation and Discourse about COVID-19 Conspiracies. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 28(1). doi: 10.1093/jcmc/zmac034 PDF
  • Qian, S*., Shen, C. & Zhang, J. (2022). Fighting Cheapfakes: Using a Digital Media Literacy Intervention to Motivate Reverse Search of Out-of-Context Visual Misinformation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 28(1). doi:10.1093/jcmc/zmac024 PDF
  • Yu, X*., Gil Lopez, T*, Wojcieszak, M., and Shen, C. (2022). Engagement with Social Media Posts in Experimental and Naturalistic Settings: How Do Message Incongruence and Incivility Influence Commenting. International Journal of Communication. PDF
  • Chen, A., Zhang, J., Liao, W., Luo, C*., Shen, C. & Feng, B. (2022). Multiplicity and Dynamics of Social Representations of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Chinese Social Media in 2020. Information Processing and Management, 59(4), doi: 10.1016/j.ipm.2022.102990. PDF
  • Wolff, G. & Shen, C. (2022). Audience Size, Moderator Activity, Gender, and Content Diversity: Exploring User Participation and Financial Commitment on New Media & Society.
  • Shen, C, Kasra, M., & O’Brien, J. (2021). This photograph has been altered: Testing the effectiveness of image forensic labeling on news image credibility. Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review, 2(3). doi:
  • Sun, Q. & Shen, C. (2021). Who Would Respond to A Troll? A Social Network Analysis of Reactions to Trolls in Online Communities. Computers in Human Behavior, 106786. doi:
  • Chen, K. Chen, A, Zhang, J, Meng, J. & Shen, C. (2020). Conspiracy narratives and debunking about COVID-19 origination on Chinese social media: how it started and who is to blame. Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review. PDF
  • Ratan, R., Shen, C., and Williams, D. (2020). Men Do Not Rule the World of Tanks: Negating the Gender-Performance Gap in a Spatial-Action Game by Controlling for Time Played. American Behavioral Scientist, 64(7), 1031-104. doi: 10.1177/0002764220919147 PDF
  • Pan, W*., Feng, B. and Shen, C. (2020). Social Capital, Social Support, and Language Use in an Online Depression Forum: Social Network Analysis and Computerized Text Analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 22(6), e17365. doi: 10.2196/17365 PDF
  • Shen, C., Chen, A., Luo, C*., Zhang, J., Feng, B. & Liao, W. (2020). Using Reports of Symptoms and Diagnoses on Social Media to Predict COVID-19 Case Counts in Mainland China: Observational Infoveillance Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(5), e19421. doi: 10.2196/19421 PDF
  • Shen, C., Sun, Q*., Kim, T*., Wolff, G*., Ratan, R., and Williams, D. (2020). Viral Vitriol: Predictors and Contagion of Online Toxicity in World of Tanks. Computers in Human Behavior, 108, 106343. doi: PDF
  • Kim, C*. & Shen, C. (2020). Connecting Activities on Social Network Sites and Life Satisfaction:  A Comparison of Older and Younger Users. Computers in Human Behavior, 105, 106222. doi: PDF
  • van Atteveldt, W., Margolin, D., Shen, C., Trilling, D. & Weber, R (2019). A Roadmap for Computational Communication Research. Computational Communication Research. doi: 10.5117/CCR2019.1.001.VANA PDF (editorial)
  • Hilbert, M., Barnett, G., Blumenstock, J., Contractor, N., Diesner, J., Frey, S., González-Bailón, S., Lamberson, P., Pan, J., Peng, T., Shen, C., Smaldino, P., van Atteveldt, W., Waldherr, A., Zhang, J., & Zhu, J. (2019). Computational Communication Science: A Methodological Catalyzer for a Maturing Discipline. International Journal Of Communication, 13, 23. PDF
  • Shen, C., Kasra, M., Pan, W.*, Benefield, G.*, Malloch, Y.*, & O’Brien, J. (2019). Fake images: The effects of source, intermediary, and digital media literacy on contextual assessment of image credibility online. New Media & Society, 21(2), 428-463, doi:10.1177/1461444818799526 PDF
  • Gil Lopez, T*., Shen, C., Benefield, G*., Palomares, N., Kosinski, M. & Stillwell, D. (2018). One Size Fits All: Context Collapse, Self-Presentation Strategies and Language Styles on Facebook. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 23(3), 127-145. doi:10.1093/jcmc/zmy006 PDF
  • Kasra, M., Shen, C., & O’Brien, J. (2018). Seeing is believing: How people fail to identify fake images on the web. In Proceedings of the 27th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2018), Montreal, Canada. PDF
  • Pan, W*., Shen, C., & Feng, B. (2017). You Get What You Give: Understanding Reply Reciprocity and Social Capital in Online Health Support Forums. Journal of Health Communication, 22(1), 45-52. doi:10.1080/10810730.2016.1250845 PDF
  • Shen, C., Ratan, R., Cai, Y. D., & Leavitt, A*. (2016). Do men advance faster than women? Debunking the gender performance gap in two Massively Multiplayer Online Games. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 21(4), 312-329. doi:10.1111/jcc4.12159 PDF
  • Kahn, A. S., Shen, C., Lu, L., Ratan, R. A., Coary, S., Hou, J., Meng, J., Osborn, J. C., Williams, D. (2015). The Trojan Player Typology: A cross-genre, cross-cultural, behaviorally validated scale of video game play motivations. Computers in Human Behavior, 49, 354-361. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.03.018 PDF
  • Shen, C., & Cage, C*. (2015). Exodus to the real world? Assessing the impact of offline meetups on community participation and social capital. New Media & Society, 17(3), 394-414. doi: 10.1177/1461444813504275 PDF
  • Shen, C., Monge, P., & Williams, D. (2014). Virtual brokerage and closure: Network structure and social capital in a massively multiplayer online game. Communication Research, 41(4), 459-480. doi: 10.1177/0093650212455197 PDF
  • CMN101Y Communication Theories
  • CMN174 Social Media
  • CMN110 Communication Networks
  • CMN214 Analysis of Communication Networks
  • CMN255 Social Media