Dr. Dani Arigo awarded National Institute of Health “New Innovator Award”

Dr. Dani Arigo plans on using the grant to explore a study on social comparisons. - Photo via Dr. Dani Arigo

In the realm of academia, where passion meets purpose, one exceptional mind at Rowan University is making significant strides in unraveling the complexities of social issues.

Driven by a dedication to understanding the human psyche and social comparisons, Dr. Dani Arigo, an associate psychology professor, has recently been awarded a $1.5 million transformative grant by the National Institute of Health directors to further pursue her studies. 

The “NIH New Innovator Award” was established in 2007 and is “Part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program. The award supports exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects in the biomedical, behavioral or social sciences within the NIH mission,” according to the National Institute of Health’s website.

Arigo received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Drexel University, and received her master’s degree and Ph.D in Clinical Psychology from Syracuse University. She has also received 10 awards for her work in the field. 

Dr. Arigo possesses a diverse range of expertise, focusing on understanding the complicated connections between social factors and health behaviors. Her expertise encompasses social influences on health and health behavior, women’s health, physical activity, eating disorders, weight control, body image, and digital health.

Furthermore, Dr. Arigo is the head of Rowan University Department of Psychology’s Clinical Health And Social Experiences (CHASE) Research Lab. Recently, Dr. Arigo’s team has focused on the intricate relationship between women’s health, physical activity, and technology. Her research usually is conducted on one group to make the results more focused and niche.

“Different people have different struggles, different barriers and facilitators to behavior change and have different responses to social environments. Being in a group of people has different effects on different individuals…really what we want to understand are the unique experiences that people who identify as women would say, or experiences that make them different from men,” said Arigo. “We recognize that women are socialized in a very different way than men.”

Dr. Arigo’s team intends to finally do the CHASE Lab’s research on the importance of social comparison and how they affect health behaviors, with the newly allocated $1.5 million grant. 

Social comparison is the act of evaluating our own abilities, qualities, and achievements in relation to others, often leading to feelings of either self-worth or inadequacy based on these comparisons. 

“We’re interested in these influences on health and health behavior because if we better understand them, we can optimize the kinds of interventions and support programs that can help people make behavior changes that are going to best support their health in the long run,” said Arigo.

To learn more about the Chase Lab and Dr. Arigo’s studies, visit her website

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