David Sherman

David Sherman


Research Area

Social Psychology


David Sherman received his BA in psychology from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He received his Ph. D. in psychology from Stanford University, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Health Psychology at UCLA. He is a professor of social psychology in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at UCSB. Dr. Sherman was an Associate Editor at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2011-2017), served as president of the International Society for Self and Identity (2016-2018) and is currently the Editor of Personality and Social Psychology Review (2018-2021). His research, which is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, centers on how people respond to information and events that threaten the self.


David Sherman’s research examines the role of the self in responding to threats and stressful events. In one line of research, he examines the psychology of self-defense, that is, why people often respond defensively to threats to the self, and how this defensiveness can be reduced. In particular, he examines how self-affirmation can make people less defensive and more open to threatening events (e.g., negative health information or information critical of one’s group). He also examines the circumstances in which self-affirmation can help people sustain motivation and performance when experiencing stressful and threatening events.

A second line of research examines barriers to environmental sustainability. This research examines both sociocultural moderators of the link between beliefs, norms, and environmental behavior, as well as psychological barriers to support for policy related to climate change.

Selected Publications

Sherman, D. K., Lokhande, M., Müller, T., & Cohen, G. L. (in press). Self-affirmation Interventions. To appear in G. Walton and A. Crum (Eds.). Handbook of Wise Interventions: How Social-Psychological Insights Can Help Solve Problems.

Brockner, J., & Sherman, D. K. (in press). Wise interventions in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior.

Shepherd, S., Sherman, D. K., MacLair, A., & Kay, A. C. (in press). The challenges of military veterans in their transition to the workplace: A call for integrating basic and applied psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Sherman, D. K., & Cohen, G. L. (2020). Self-affirmation: Understanding the effects. In J. Aronson & E. Aronson (Eds.), Readings about the Social Animal (12th ed., pp. 94-113). New York: Worth Publishers.

Sherman, D. K., Shteyn, M. F., Han, H., & Van Boven, L. (2020). The exchange between citizens and elected officials: A social psychological framework for citizen climate activists. Behavioural Public Policy. doi:10.1017/bpp.2020.41

Eom, K., Papadakis, V., Sherman, D. K., & Kim, H. S. (2019). The psychology of pro-environmental support: In search of global solutions for a global problem. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28, 490-495.

Badea, C. & Sherman, D. K. (2019). Self-affirmation and prejudice reduction: When and why? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28, 40-46.

Ehret, P. J., & Sherman, D. K. (2018). Integrating self-affirmation and implementation intentions: Effects on college student drinking. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 52, 633-644.

Van Boven, L., Ehret, P. J., & Sherman, D. K. (2018). Psychological barriers to bipartisan public support for climate policy. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13, 492-507.

Ehret, P. J., Van Boven, L., & Sherman, D. K., (2018). Partisan barriers to bipartisanship: Understanding climate policy. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9, 308-318. • APA Division 34's (Population and conservation psychology) Graduate Student Award for the best graduate student led paper (awarded to Phil Ehret).

Eom, K., Kim, H. S., & Sherman, D. K. (2018). Social class, control, and action: Socioeconomic status differences in antecedents of support for pro-environmental action. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 77, 60-75.

Badea, C., Binning, K. R., Verlhiac, J., & Sherman, D. K. (2017). In the aftermath of terrorism: Effects of self- versus group-affirmation on support for discriminatory policies. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, 421-428.

Sherman, D. K., Brookfield, J., & Ortosky, L. (2017). Intergroup conflict and barriers to common ground: A self-affirmation perspective. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. e12364. https://doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12364

Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K., & Updegraff, J. A. (2016). Fear of Ebola: The influence of collectivism on xenophobic threat responses. Psychological Science, 27, 935-944.

Ehret, P. J., LaBrie, J. W., Santerre, C., & Sherman, D. K. (2015). Self-Affirmation and Motivational Interviewing (SAMI): Integrating perspectives to reduce resistance and increase efficacy of alcohol interventions. Health Psychology Review, 9, 83-102.

Updegraff, J. A., Brick, C., Emanuel, A. S., Mintzer, R. E., & Sherman, D. K. (2015). Message framing for health: Moderation by perceived susceptibility and motivational orientation in a diverse sample of Americans. Health Psychology, 34, 20-29.

Cohen, G. L., & Sherman, D. K. (2014). The psychology of change: Self-affirmation and social psychological intervention. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 333-371.

Sherman, D. K. (2013). Self-affirmation: Understanding the effects. Social Psychology and Personality Compass, 7, 834-845.

Sherman, D. K., Hartson, K. A., Binning, K., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Garcia, J., Taborsky-Barba, S., Tomassetti, S., Nussbaum, A. D., & Cohen, G. (2013). Deflecting the trajectory and changing the narrative: How self-affirmation affects academic performance and motivation under identity threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 591-618.