David Sherman Launched the “Health Psychology & COVID-19” Interview Series

June 4, 2020

Professor David Sherman has taught Health Psychology at UCSB since 2003. This past Winter Quarter, it was interrupted, like many other courses on campus, by the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike most other courses, however, this public health crisis and how individuals, society and policymakers react to it is precisely what Health Psychology is about, as Professor Sherman put it, “I have always tried to teach this course with an eye towards how health psychology – the biopsychosocial model of health and illness – affects us in our everyday lives. I have also tried to teach it as a community-oriented class, by having guest lecturers come in who are social workers, doctors, and as well to relate the themes of the class to broader issues such as health care policy, and sustainability.”


The community-oriented content of Health Psychology determines that it always needs to reflect “what was happening in our lives”, and this demand is even more urgent during a global pandemic that is affecting the life of everyone. To meet this demand, Professor Sherman has decided to put together an interview series since the early stage of this pandemic, featuring UCSB alumnae Paige Farrenkopf and Dairine Pearson who are working as a contact tracer and hospice worker; Professors Jeffrey Fisher and William Fisher who are applying the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Model to change health behaviors related to hand hygiene and mask wearing to prevent COVID-19; Professor Howard Leventhal who conducted health psychology research on the 1957-1958 flu pandemic in the U.S., and many more.


To better understand the story behind the interview series, Professor Hongbo Yu recently had a conversation with Professor David Sherman, asking him to talk about the goals and scope of the series. Professor Sherman has three goals in mind when organizing these interviews:


  1. To create a series of discussions relevant to the different topics taught about in health psychology – invaluable materials that can be drawn on when teaching Health Psychology in the future.
  2. To discuss the issues of the day and learn from experts in the field about what they are doing – How are others in the health psychology community thinking about, teaching about, and conducting research relevant to COVID-19.
  3. To create a resource for others in the health psychology community – and the public who is interested in this perspective – to draw on, to facilitate science, better communication, and well-being.


Although the students who will be taking the Health Psychology course and the teachers and instructors who are or will be teaching this course will naturally be the audience of these interviews, Professor Sherman also wanted to create a resource for those interested from the UCSB community and the general public. To take the project one step further, Professor Sherman is working to make these audios more accessible in podcast form. Stay tuned!