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, where he has been on the faculty since 2003. Dr. Sherman served as Editor of Personality and Social Psychology Review (2018-2021), as an Associate Editor at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2011-2017), and as president of the International Society for Self and Identity (2016-2018). 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

Leong, S., Eom, K., Ishii, K., Aichberger, M. C., Fetz, K., Müller, T. S., Kim, H. S., & Sherman, D. K. (2022). Individual costs and community benefits: Collectivism and individuals’ compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions to combat COVID-19. PLoSONE, 17 (11):  e0275388. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0275388

Cole, J. C., Ehret, P. J., Sherman, D. K., & Van Boven, L. (2022). Social norms explain prioritization of climate policy. Climatic Change, 173 (10). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-022-03396-x <https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-022-03396-x>

McKoane, A., & Sherman, D. K. (2022). Diagnostic uncertainty in patients, parents, and physicians: A compensatory control theory perspective. Health Psychology Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/17437199.2022.2086899 <https://doi.org/10.1080/17437199.2022.2086899>

Flores, A. F., Cole, J. C., Dickert, S., Eom, K. Jiga-Boy, G. M., Kogut, T., Loria, R., Mayorga, M., Pedersen, E. J., Pereira, B., Rubaltelli, E., Sherman, D. K., Slovic, P., Västfjäll, D., & Van Boven, L. (2022). Politicians polarize and experts depolarize public support for COVID-19 management policies across countries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(3) e2117543119. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2117543119 <https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2117543119>

Chuang, R., Ishii, K., Kim, H. S., & Sherman, D. K. (2022). Swinging for the fences versus advancing the runner: Culture, motivation, and strategic decision making. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 13(1), 91-101. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550621999273 <https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550621999273>

Sherman, D. K., Updegraff, J. A., Handy, M. S., Eom, K., & Kim, H. S. (2022). Beliefs and social norms as precursors of environmental support: The joint influence of collectivism and socioeconomic status. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 48(3), 463-477. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672211007252 <https://doi.org/10.1177%2F01461672211007252>

Sherman, D. K., Lokhande, M., Müller, T., & Cohen, G. L. (2021). Self-affirmation interventions. In G. M. Walton and A. J. Crum (Eds.). Handbook of Wise Interventions: How Social Psychology Can Help People Change <https://www.guilford.com/books/Handbook-of-Wise-Interventions/Walton-Crum/9781462543830> (pp. 63-99). New York: Guilford Press.

Sherman, D. K., Ortosky, L., Leong, S., Kello, C., & Hegarty, M. (2021). The changing landscape of doctoral education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics: PhD students, faculty advisors, and preferences for varied career options. Frontiers in Psychology, 12: 711615. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.711615

Grant, M., Flores, A., Pedersen, E., Sherman, D. K., & Van Boven, L. (2021). When election expectations fail: Polarized perceptions of election legitimacy increase with accumulating evidence of election outcomes and with polarized media. PLoSONE, 16(12): e0259473. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0259473 <https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0259473>

Kim, H. S., Chuang, R., Eom, K., & Sherman, D. K. (2021). Psychology and the threat of contagion: Feeling vulnerable to a disease moderates the link between xenophobic thoughts and support for ingroup-protective actions. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 48(10), 1465-1482. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672211037138 <https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672211037138>

Badea, C., Binning, K. R., Sherman, D. K., Boza, M., & Kende, A. (2021). Conformity to group norms: How group-affirmation shapes collective action.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 95, 104153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104153 <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104153>

Van Boven, L., & Sherman, D. K. (2021). Elite influence on public attitudes about climate policy. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 42, 83–88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2021.03.023 <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2021.03.023>

Binning, K. R., Cook, J. E., Greenaway, V. P., Garcia, J., Apfel, N., Sherman, D. K., & Cohen, G. L. (2021). Securing self-integrity over time: Self-affirmation disrupts a negative cycle between psychological threat and academic performance. Journal of Social Issues, 77(3), 801-823. https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12461 <https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12461>

Shepherd, S., Sherman, D. K., MacLean, A., & Kay, A. C. (2021). The challenges of military veterans in the workplace: A call for integrating basic and applied psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 16(3), 590-613. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691620953096 <https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691620953096>

Sherman, D. K., Shteyn, M. F., Han, H., & Van Boven, L. (2021). The exchange between citizens and elected officials: A social psychological framework for citizen climate activists. Behavioural Public Policy, 5(4), 576-705. https://doi.org/10.1017/bpp.2020.41

Brockner, J., & Sherman, D. K. (2019). Wise interventions in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior, 39, 100-125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.riob.2020.100125 <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.riob.2020.100125>