Rain Wuyu Liu

Assistant Professor
Rain Wuyu Liu

Office: Communication 105
Office Hours: Fall 2023 | Tues/Thurs 3:30pm-4:30pm & by appt

Rain Wuyu Liu is an Assistant Professor of Communication. She was born and raised in China. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Southwest University in her home country, she came to the United States in 2010, where she received her M.A. in Public Relations from the University of Miami in 2012, and Ph.D. in Communication from Michigan State University in 2017.

Rain’s research interests span the areas of persuasion, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and social influence. Specifically, her research focuses on the impacts of social norm messages on health and environment information processing, attitude change, and health and conservation behavior promotion. She is also interested in the interplay between cultural values and beliefs with the social normative influence in shaping individuals’ attitudes and behaviors. Her other research interests include research methods and statistics, strategic communication and campaign designing.

Rain has extensive experience of working on grant-funded research projects including an interdisciplinary behavioral and social science research (IBSS) project conducted among Tibetan herders in Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Other projects were funded by agencies such as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation and Research. Her publications have appeared in Environmental Communication, Communication Studies, Intercultural Communication Studies, American Behavioral Social Scientist, Sustainability, Communication Research Reports and Computers in Human Behavior.

She has won multiple Top Paper Awards from the National Communication Association (NCA) and the International Communication Association (ICA), inaugural Environmental Communication Division Dissertation Award from ICA, the Outstanding Paper Award and Outstanding Young Scholar Award from the International Association for Intercultural Communication Studies (IAICS), and multiple research excellence fellowship awards from Michigan State University and the Association for Chinese Communication Studies (ACCS) in NCA.

She teaches courses in public relations, intercultural communication, interpersonal communication, persuasion, research methods, and communication campaign design and analysis.


Ongoing Projects include 1) cultural differences in obligation and reciprocity in China and the US; 2) the susceptibility of social norm messages cross-culturally; 3) the effects of sticky messages 4) message effects: boomerang; 5) smartphone, work, stress, and autonomy imbalance

Research Interests

Persuasion and Social Influence; Intercultural Communication; Interpersonal Communication; Social Normative Message Effects and Message Processing

Selected Publications

Liu, R. W., Cheng, Y., Boster, F. J., & Townson, C. (2022). The suasory force of sticky messages: An replication and extension. Western Journal of Communication. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10570314.2022.2057579 

Liu, R. W., Lapinski, M. K., Kerr, J., Zhao, J., Bum, T., & Lu, Z. (2022). Culture and Social Norms: Development and Application of a Model for Culturally Contextualized Communication Measurement (MC³M). Frontiers in Communicationhttps://doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2021.770513

Liu, R. W., & Lapinski, M. K. (Expected 2023). The theory of normative social behavior. International Encyclopedia of Health Communication. Wiley. 

Cheng, Y., Liu, R. W., & Foerster, T. (2021). Predicting intentions to practice covid-19 preventative behaviors in the United States: A test of the risk perception attitude framework and the theory of normative social behavior. Journal of Health Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/13591053211057382

Lapinski, M. K., Liu, R. W., Kerr, J. M., Zhao, J., Bum, T., & Lu, Z. (2021). Culture and social norms: Behavioral decisions about grassland conservation among ethnically Tibetan pastoralists. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/17513057.2021.1916569

Fanari, A., Liu, R. W., & Foerster, T. (2021). Homesick or sick-of-home? Examining the effects of reverse culture shock on students’ self-disclosure after studying abroad. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/17475759.2020.1866643

Kahler, J., Liu, R. W., Newcomb, T., Herbst, S., & Gore, M. (2020). Public risk perceptions associated with Asian carp introduction and corresponding response actions. Management of Biological Invasions11(1), 80–95. https://doi.org/10.3391/mbi.2020.11.1.06  

Kerr, J., Bum, T., Lapinski, M. K., Liu, R. W., Lu, Z., & Zhao, J. (2019). The effects of social norms on motivation crowding: Experimental evidence from the Tibetan Plateau. International Journal of the Commons

Liu, R. W., & Rynbrandt, M. (2018). Transformative intercultural communication programs that promote student integration. In M. Strawser (Ed.) Transformative student experiences. Lexington, KY: Lexington Books.

Lapinski, M. K., Liu, R. W., Kerr, J., Zhao, J., & Bum, T. (2018). Characterizing interpersonal influence for grassland conservation behaviors in a unique population. Environmental Communication. https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2018.1436579 

Meng, J., Peng, W., Tan, P., Liu, R. W., Cheng, Y., & Bae, A. (2018). Diffusion size and structural virality: The effects of message and network features on spreading health information on Twitter. Computers in Human Behavior, 89, 111-120, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.07.039

Lapinski, M. K., Silk, K., Liu, R. W., & Totzkay, D. (2018). Models for environmental communication for unique populations: Cases from the field. In B. Takahashi & S. Rosenthal (Eds.) Environmental communication among minority populations. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.

Boster, F. J., Liu, R. W., Cheng, Y., Kim, W., & Shaikh, S. J. (2017). The suasory force of sticky messages: A application to the application of sunscreen. Communication Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/10510974.2017.1414067 

Shi, S. Y., Liu, R. W., Jang, J-W., & Bete, G. (2017). Comparison between video chat and face-to-face interpersonal conflict. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.03.022

Kerr, J., Lapinski, M. K., Liu, R. W., & Zhao, J. (2017) Combining insights from economics and communication science to understand the long-term effects of payment for environmental services. Sustainability, 9, 1627. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9091627

Liu, R. W., & Bresnahan, M. J. (2016). Cultural differences in perception of family obligation and request compliance in China and the U.S. Intercultural Communication Studies, 25(2), 111-130.

Liu, R. W., Nelson, J. C., Pei, D., & Yang, Y. (2016). Embracing the opportunities ahead: An analysis of communication position announcements for 2013–2014. Communication Research Reports, 33, 259–264. https://doi.org/10.1080/08824096.2016.1186621

Boster, F. J., Liu, R. W., Poorisat, T., Cheng, Y., Kim, W., Salmon-Seidmann, N. D., & Salmon, C. T. (2016). Communicating to influence perceptions of social stigma: Implications for the use of signs by the homeless as a means of soliciting funds. American Behavioral Scientist, 60, 1293–1305. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764216657379


  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI Ph.D. in Communication, July 2017
  • University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL Master of Arts in Public Relations, May 2012
  • Southwest University, Chongqing, China Bachelor of Arts, June 2010 Major in English, specialized in English-Chinese Translation and Interpretation