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PhD Student: Delaney Peterson MSc

From the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, rising inequality and immigration crises, human beings of the 21st century have to navigate a complex and dangerous political terrain. Alongside this threatening socio-political landscape, is an increase in political dysfunction; with distrust in science and conspiracy belief growing, greater affective polarization, the spread of misinformation and the rise of populism throughout many nations. Funded by the NWO (VIDI grant, Bert Bakker), this dissertation is part of the larger "Under Pressure" project, which seeks to better understand the complicated threat-politics relationship and its role in explaining the novel political environment of the 21st century.    

Specifically, I look to how physiological and emotional dysregulation may be implicated in one's sensitivity to threat and how this dynamic might be 1) manipulated by elite communication and 2) shaping political behavior. Through a mixed-methods approach, spanning survey data, lab studies using psychophysiological measures and in-depth interviews, I explore the following questions:  

  1. How is allostatic load implicated in threat sensitivity?
    1. How does this dynamic impact political behavior? 
  2. What role do elites play in shaping societal threat perceptions? 
D.J. (Delaney) Peterson

PhD student

Dr. B.N. (Bert) Bakker


Dr. G. (Gijs) Schumacher


Dr F.R. (Frederic) Hopp