Dani Arigo is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton (Scranton, PA, USA). She is also a Licensed Psychologist in the Commonwealth of PA. Her field is Clinical Health Psychology (Ph.D., 2012).


Dani speaks:

As a clinical psychologist, my expertise is in adult psychopathology – understanding the development, assessment, and treatment of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. During my graduate training, I found myself most interested in conditions related to health behaviors such as eating and sleeping. From there, I became interested in addressing psychological barriers to healthy behaviors (such as low motivation) and ways to use technology to promote health on a large scale. My primary focus is in the reciprocal relationship between individual health behaviors and the social environment. For example, how does your peer group affect your food choices (and vice versa)? How does increasing social support for exercise affect your exercise frequency?

Much of the effect of the social environment involves social comparison, or comparing yourself to someone else to gain information about yours status. We know less about social comparison’s role in health than we do about a process like social support. My work has identified social comparison as a key contributor to psychological and physical functioning in diabetes (among adults) and as a risk factor for the development of eating disorders (among college women). Right now, me and my team of undergraduate research assistants are examining ways to use the social functions of wearable physical activity sensors (such as FitBit) to promote and sustain activity among women with cardiovascular risk markers.*


DeathtoStock_Creative Community6Although I have an active research program and a wonderful group of students working with me on research, my primary role is teaching. (Health Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Personality & Individual Differences.) Like many faculty members at teaching institutions, my Novembers are especially busy, and I find it more difficult than usual to stay on track with ongoing projects. I use Twitter as a writing motivator – I follow hashtags like #AcWri #ECRChat, and #PhDChat – and I’ve met some incredible academics as a result. Their participation in #AcWriMo inspired me to join last year (my first time), and it was a HUGE success! In one month, I submitted two manuscripts, two conference abstracts (with students), my self-report (pre-tenure reappointment application), and a teaching grant for my Health Psychology class. I also finished major revisions on a third manuscript and sent the draft to coauthors. Both manuscripts were eventually published and both abstracts were accepted; the third manuscript is under revision (long story). Also, I got reappointed for a second year, and I got the teaching grant. So I’m eager to see what this year’s #AcWriMo brings.


I just finished my first federal grant submission, so my goals are slightly more modest this year. (Though I want to use the momentum of the submission this month.) In terms of products, I have committed to:

(1) Finish specific aims and candidate statement for a new grant proposal

(2) finish drafts of two manuscripts with students (Introduction through Results), and

(3) submit a brief internal grant proposal.

In terms of process (which often is more difficult for me to stick to), I plan to write for two hours on each of three days per week (Tuesday, Thursday, and either Saturday or Sunday) and spend one of these writing sessions off campus (per week). During the month, I will complete my accountability form and check in with fellow #AcWriMo participants on Twitter. I’m also participating in a writing accountability group with faculty on my campus, so I’ll check in with them weekly. Given how helpful and enjoyable the #AcWriMo event was last year, I expect to be VERY happy come November 30th. Join us for a great November!

*You can follow us @UofSHealthPsych and the author, @daniarigo