Deputy Director of Research

Dan Relihan

Dr. Daniel P. Relihan is the Deputy Director of Research at the Polarization & Extremism Research & Innovation Lab (PERIL) at American University and a postdoctoral scholar the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He received a Bachelor of Science in psychology and communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Arts in Psychology from New York University, and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology with a minor in Quantitative Psychology from UCI. His research focuses on how ideology (political, religious), morality, and social identity shape the way people perceive and respond to different societal threats like political instability, natural disasters, and terrorism. Working alongside interdisciplinary teams, his research has shown that how people morally feel can bias the risk they perceive (O’Connor, Relihan, Thomas, Ditto, Stanford, & Weatherall, 2023), and people’s perceptions of and reactions to threat can be shaped by their ingroup identities (Relihan, Jones, Holman, & Silver, 2023) and authority threat cues (Relihan, Holman, Garfin, Ditto, & Silver, 2023). This work has important implications for mitigating biases in risk perceptions, devising strategies for risk and public health communications, and understanding the negative psychological consequences of broadcasting group-based threat events across news media. Dr. Relihan’s research has been published in top academic journals, such as Scientific Reports and Political Psychology, and he is a recipient of several awards for his research, including the Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS) Special Competition for Young Investigators Award. Dr. Relihan is passionate about using his research to understand and address the challenges of our time. He is particularly interested in the role of social psychology in understanding and mitigating political polarization, climate change, and other pressing social issues. He is also committed to mentoring and supporting early-career researchers, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. In his spare time, Dr. Relihan enjoys outdoor adventures like hiking and scuba diving, as well as traveling to experience diverse cultures.

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