David Sherman

David Sherman, Professor, Member of PhD Emphasis Affiliate (IEES)

Office Hours

Please e-mail for appointment

Contact Phone

(805) 893-3149

Office Location

Building 251, Room 3809


Social Psychology, Psychology of Self-Defense, and Perceived Intergroup Polarization

Faculty in Psychology and Brain Sciences Department


  • Ph. D., Psychology, Stanford University
  • B.A., Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca


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. Since 2005, he has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychological & Brain sciences at UCSB. 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 eliminated. In particular, he examines how self-affirmation can make people less defensive and more open to personally threatening events (e.g., negative health information), as well as group threatening events (e.g., the defeat of one’s team).

A second line of research examines the phenomenon of perceived intergroup polarization, the tendency of individuals and partisans to accentuate the differences between their own and opposing groups. He examines how motivation impacts the process of polarization as well as the implications of polarization for negotiation and political attitudes.

A third line of research examines cultural differences in how people use social support in times of stress and the implications of these cultural differences for relationships, health, and well-being.


Click here to view a full list of publications.