David K. Sherman's research while affiliated with University of California, Santa Barbara and other places

Publications (100)

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Most people in the United States recognize the reality of climate change and are concerned about its consequences, yet climate change is a low priority relative to other policy issues. Recognizing that belief in climate change does not necessarily translate to prioritizing climate policy, we examine psychological factors that may boost or inhibit p...
Article
Medical diagnoses offer a structure by which psychological uncertainty can be attenuated, allowing patients to diminish imposing psychological threats and focus on health prognosis. Yet when no diagnosis can be made, patients may experience diagnostic uncertainty - their perceptions that the medical field is unable to provide an accurate explanatio...
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Political polarization impeded public support for policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19, much as polarization hinders responses to other contemporary challenges. Unlike previous theory and research that focused on the United States, the present research examined the effects of political elite cues and affective polarization on support for polic...
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The landscape of graduate science education is changing as efforts to diversify the professoriate have increased because academic faculty jobs at universities have grown scarce and more competitive. With this context as a backdrop, the present research examines the perceptions and career goals of advisors and advisees through surveys of PhD student...
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The present study, conducted immediately after the 2020 presidential election in the United States, examined whether Democrats’ and Republicans’ polarized assessments of election legitimacy increased over time. In a naturalistic survey experiment, people ( N = 1,236) were randomly surveyed either during the week following Election Day, with votes c...
Article
Public attitudes about climate policy are shaped by social identities, norms, and other sociocultural factors. Recent research demonstrates the impact of cues from policy makers and other political elites on support for climate policies, and the processes by which elite cues perpetuate political polarization. Elite cues convey information about soc...
Article
The widespread threat of contagious disease disrupts not only everyday life but also psychological experience. Building on findings regarding xenophobic responses to contagious diseases, this research investigates how perceived vulnerability to a disease moderates the psychological link between people’s xenophobic thoughts and support for ingroup-p...
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Self‐affirmation, operationalized as value‐affirmation interventions, can have long‐term beneficial effects on the academic performance and trajectories of members of negatively stereotyped groups, thus reducing achievement gaps. Yet, there is significant heterogeneity in the effectiveness of value affirmations, and we do not yet have a clear under...
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Adolescence can be a tumultuous period with numerous threats to self‐integrity. A 3‐year field experiment tested whether repeated affirmations of self‐integrity can help lessen the impact of psychological threat on adolescent (11–14 years old) students’ core course GPA over time. A diverse cohort of students (N = 163) was randomly assigned to a con...
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Three studies (N=1161) conducted in France and Romania tested the hypotheses that collective action is partly driven by conformity, as people follow what they perceive as normative in the social context. Further, we hypothesized that a contemporaneous affirmation of group identity would amplify such conformity. Consistent with expectations, partici...
Article
The present research investigates how the cultural value of collectivism interacts with socioeconomic status (SES) to influence the basis of action. Using a U.S. national sample ( N = 2,538), the research examines how these sociocultural factors jointly moderate the strength of two precursors of environmental support: beliefs about climate change a...
Article
This research investigated cross-cultural differences in strategic risky decisions in baseball—among professional baseball teams in North America and Japan (Study 1) and among baseball fans in the United States and Japan (Study 2—preregistered). Study 1 analyzed archival data from professional baseball leagues and demonstrated that outcomes reflect...
Article
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Pro-environmental behaviors such as conserving water, reducing flights, or purchasing energy-efficient appliances are subject to social pressures. The influence of norms on behavior is widely studied, but it is less clear which social identities (e.g., political ideology; being an environmen- talist) and contextual factors lead individuals to pursu...
Preprint
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Pro-environmental behaviors such as conserving water, reducing flights, or purchasing energy-efficient appliances are subject to social pressures. The influence of norms on behavior is widely studied, but it is less clear which social identities (e.g., political ideology; being an environmentalist) and contextual factors lead individuals to pursue...
Article
The subjective meanings employees assign to their understandings of themselves, others, and their environments influence an array of important work attitudes and behaviors. We review theory and research on wise interventions that illustrate three fundamental motives that underlie this subjective meaning-making process: the need to understand, the n...
Conference Paper
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En utilisant une approche fondée sur la théorie de l'auto-affirmation, nous examinons le lien entre les normes sociales et l’engagement des individus dans l’action collective en faveur des Roms. Quelles sont les intentions des individus - se conforment-ils davantage aux normes sociales - lorsque différents niveaux du concept de soi (identité person...
Article
Citizen activists play a role in translating public concern about the climate crisis to policymakers and elevating it on the political agenda. We consider the dynamic between citizen activists and the decision-makers they seek to influence and we review psychological research relevant to advocating for climate legislation. We conducted a study with...
Chapter
A theory-based intervention known as “self-affirmation” provides people with the opportunity to affirm a sense of self-integrity, a global image of moral and adaptive adequacy, at moments of psychological threat. By assuaging threat, affirmations can allay stress and defensive responding. The positive impact of self-affirmations has been shown in m...
Article
A three-year field experiment at an ethnically diverse middle school (N = 163) tested the hypothesis that periodic self-affirmation exercises delivered by classroom teachers bolsters students' school trust and improves their behavioral conduct. Students were randomly assigned to either a self-affirmation condition, where they wrote a series of in-c...
Article
We review research that provides a sociocultural perspective on proenvironmental support. Despite the increasing volume of psychological research on proenvironmental action, there has been a relative dearth of consideration of sociocultural contexts, which poses critical theoretical and practical limitations to understanding and fostering proenviro...
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The question of the antecedents of prejudicial responses has a long history, with an acknowledgment of the contributions of historical, structural, cultural, as well as psychological factors. Social psychological research on “prejudice as self-image maintenance (Fein & Spencer, 1997)” provides evidence that manifestations of prejudice stem, in part...
Article
Addressing social issues such as climate change requires significant support and engagement of citizens with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. The present research examines whether individuals who vary in their socioeconomic status significantly differ in their psychological antecedents of support for pro-environmental action. Study 1, using U.S....
Article
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Psychological scientists have the expertise—and arguably an obligation—to help understand the political polarization that impedes enactment of climate policy. Many explanations emphasize Republican skepticism about climate change. Yet results from national panel studies in 2014 and 2016 indicate that most Republicans believe in climate change, if n...
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The authors acknowledge and respond to three concerns raised by Weber (2018) about oversimplifying psychological barriers to climate policy. First, skepticism about climate change remains a major barrier to climate policy, along with political partisanship. Second, recognizing multifaceted barriers to climate policy calls for multiple targeted inte...
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Everyday partisans evaluate policies partly by following partisan cues, fomenting polarization. However, there is debate over the influence of partisan cues in “real-world,” nonlaboratory contexts. An experiment with a real climate change initiative in the 2016 Washington State election tested whether partisan cues influenced climate policy polariz...
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Background High levels of alcohol consumption are an enduring health risk among college students. Integrating multiple, complementary behavior change theories may offer a promising approach to promote reductions in alcohol consumption. Purpose The current study tested if integrating self-affirmation and implementation intentions would be more effe...
Article
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An experiment conducted with 240 French undergraduates examined the effectiveness of self-affirmation and group-affirmation procedures for diminishing perceived threat and support for discriminatory policy shortly after terrorist attacks in Paris. (Two pilot studies tested the affirmation procedures before the attacks). We hypothesized that affirma...
Article
Psychological barriers to conflict resolution stem, in part, from defensive responses to feelings of self-threat. Self-affirmation theory proposes that affirmations of global self-worth—often achieved by writing or reflecting on core values—can broaden individuals' perspectives and potentially reduce biases in their intergroup judgments. In this pa...
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Small but timely experiences can have long-term benefits when their psychological effects interact with institutional processes. In a follow-up of two randomized field experiments, a brief values affirmation intervention designed to buffer minority middle schoolers against the threat of negative stereotypes had long-term benefits on college-relevan...
Preprint
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Social identities predict pro-environmental behavior, but the strength may depend on whether the behavior is visible to others. When an environmentalist considers a pro-environmental behavior such as carrying reusable grocery bags, being observed by others may motivate signaling the valued group membership and may increase behavior ("green to be se...
Article
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Social identities predict pro-environmental behavior, but the strength may depend on whether the behavior is visible to others. When an environmentalist considers a pro-environmental behavior such as carrying reusable grocery bags, being observed by others may motivate signaling the valued group membership and may increase behavior (“green to be se...
Article
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The divergent roles of education in predicting environmental support among liberals, conservatives, and moderates in the United States are explained by integrating ideological-consistency and information-deficit models. Increased political polarization among elites has led to divergent environmental positions advocated by liberal and conservative p...
Article
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When forecasting how they will feel in the future, people overestimate the impact that imagined negative events will have on their affective states, partly because they underestimate their own psychological resiliency. Because self-affirmation enhances resiliency, two studies examined whether self-affirmation prior to forecasting reduces the extrem...
Article
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Background. Health messages are more effective when framed to be congruent with recipient characteristics, and health practitioners can strategically choose message features to promote adherence to recommended behaviors. We present exposure to US culture as a moderator of the impact of gain-frame versus loss-frame messages. Since US culture emphasi...
Article
Research on sustainability behaviors has been based on the assumption that increasing personal concerns about the environment will increase proenvironmental action. We tested whether this assumption is more applicable to individualistic cultures than to collectivistic cultures. In Study 1, we compared 47 countries (N = 57,268) and found that they v...
Article
In response to the Ebola scare in 2014, many people evinced strong fear and xenophobia. The present study, informed by the pathogen-prevalence hypothesis, tested the influence of individualism and collectivism on xenophobic response to the threat of Ebola. A nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans completed a survey, indicating their pe...
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Emotional expression is highly valued in individualistic cultures, whereas emotional restraint is prioritized in collectivistic cultures. We hypothesized that high-quality relationships in these cultures would exhibit the forms of support provision congruent with their respective expectations. Study 1 examined support transactions among friends in...
Article
Three studies examined how individuals’ beliefs about the relation between luck and success varies with political ideology. Conservative participants endorsed luck as influential to success considerably less than liberal participants (Studies 1 and 2). The ideologically polarizing effect of luck was shown to be related to its emphasis on random cha...
Article
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Background: Health messages are more effective when framed to be congruent with recipient characteristics, and health practitioners can strategically choose message features to promote adherence to recommended behaviors. We present exposure to US culture as a moderator of the impact of gain-frame versus loss-frame messages. Since US culture emphas...
Article
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Public policies designed to improve health and well-being are challenged by people’s resistance. A social psychological perspective reveals how health policies can pose a psychological threat to individuals and result in resistance to following health recommendations. Self-affirmation, a brief psychological intervention that has individuals focus o...
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People often conform to the opinions of ingroup members, even when available evidence suggests the group is misinformed. Following insights from the social identity approach and self-affirmation theory, it was hypothesized that people conform to salient opinions in an effort to maintain global self-integrity. In a series of experiments examining Am...
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Objective: The present study examined how gain- and loss-framed informational videos about oral health influence self-reported flossing behavior over a 6-month period, as well as the roles of perceived susceptibility to oral health problems and approach/avoidance motivational orientation in moderating these effects. Method: An age and ethnically...
Article
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People have a basic need to maintain the integrity of the self, a global sense of personal adequacy. Events that threaten self-integrity arouse stress and self-protective defenses that can hamper performance and growth. However, an intervention known as self-affirmation can curb these negative outcomes. Self-affirmation interventions typically have...
Article
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To promote efforts at reducing problematic alcohol use and improving health outcomes, the present review proposes an integration of a social psychological approach – self-affirmation theory – with a clinical psychology intervention – motivational interviewing. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a popular empirically-designed treatment approach that...
Article
Self‐affirmation theory proposes that individuals possess a flexible self‐system, such that they can respond to threats in one domain of life by affirming self‐worth in other domains. In social psychology research, this has been examined in studies where people affirm important values in the context of self‐threatening events or information. This p...
Article
Research suggests that inflammation may partially mediate the link between supportiveness of social relationships and physical health. However, cultural differences between Asians and European Americans in the nature of relationships and in seeking social support suggest that there may be cultural differences in the relation between supportive rela...
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To the extent that stereotype and identity threat undermine academic performance, social psychological interventions that lessen threat could buffer threatened students and improve performance. Two studies, each featuring a longitudinal field experiment in a mixed-ethnicity middle school, examined whether a values affirmation writing exercise could...
Article
Many immoral acts are the result of gradually escalating behaviors. The present work focuses on observers of immoral acts and the role of continuous commitments in shaping their perceptions of another person's guilt. Across four studies investigating how gradual escalations affect moral judgments, participants read a scenario describing an instance...
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Two field studies investigate the role of self in the tendency of athletes to engage in claimed handicapping strategies during training (anticipatively claiming that handicaps may interfere with their performance). Study 1 tested the relationship between trait self-esteem and athletes' engagement in claimed self-handicapping. As hypothesized, low p...
Chapter
Health BehaviorsSocial SupportPsychological ControlAdjustment to the Illness ExperiencePsychological Cofactors in the Course of IllnessConclusion
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What influences perceptions of political polarization? The authors examine the polarization of people's own political attitudes as a source of perceived polarization: Individuals with more extreme partisan attitudes perceive greater polarization than individuals with less extreme partisan attitudes. This "polarization projection" was demonstrated i...
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Psychological resources--optimism, mastery, and self-esteem--buffer the deleterious effects of stress and are predictors of neurophysiological and psychological health-related outcomes. These resources have been shown to be highly heritable, yet the genetic basis for this heritability remains unknown. Here, we report a link between the oxytocin rec...
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The present research examines health persuasion from an embodied cognition perspective by proposing that engaging the motor system during presentation of a health message will lead individuals to become more skilled at performing the prescribed behaviour. Participants watched a video on the importance of flossing while either imaging themselves flo...
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To the extent that cultures vary in how they shape individuals' self-construal, it is important to consider a cultural perspective to understand the role of the self in health persuasion. We review recent research that has adopted a cultural perspective on how to frame health communications to be congruent with important, culturally variant, aspect...
Article
Research has demonstrated that certain genotypes are expressed phenotypically in different forms depending on the social environment. To examine sensitivity to cultural norms regarding emotion regulation, we explored the expression of the oxytocin receptor polymorphism (OXTR) rs53576, a gene previously related to socioemotional sensitivity, in conj...
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In the face of prejudice against an ingroup, common ground for communication exists when people use similar social categories to understand the situation. Three studies tested the hypothesis that describing perceptions of prejudice can fundamentally change those perceptions because communicators account for the common ground in line with conversati...
Article
The risk regulation model proposes that people with low self-esteem, but not those with high self-esteem, react to relationship-based self-threats by defensively distancing from their partner. In the present study, we hypothesized that a self-affirmation manipulation, by restoring self-worth and integrity for people with low self-esteem, would atte...
Article
The 2008 presidential election brought the partisan divide between U.S. Republicans and Democrats to the forefront. In such contested situations, people who identify with the parties and their candidates experience pressure to adhere to their group's core beliefs and behaviors. This research hypothesized that providing individuals a chance to affir...
Article
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Research has demonstrated that certain genotypes are expressed in different forms, depending on input from the social environment. To examine sensitivity to cultural norms regarding emotional support seeking as a type of social environment, we explored the behavioral expression of oxytocin receptor polymorphism (OXTR) rs53576, a gene previously rel...
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a b s t r a c t The present research examines health persuasion from an embodied cognition perspective by proposing that engaging the motor system during health persuasion will lead individuals to engage in healthier behavior and have greater consistency between their intentions and behavior. In two studies, participants watched a health video whil...
Article
Social support is an effective means by which people cope with stressful events, and consequently, it beneficially affects health and well-being. Yet there are profound cultural differences in the effectiveness of different types of support and how people use their support networks. In this paper, we examine research on the impact of culture on soc...
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Three studies investigated whether self-affirmation can proceed without awareness, whether people are aware of the influence of experimental self-affirmations, and whether such awareness facilitates or undermines the self-affirmation process. The authors found that self-affirmation effects could proceed without awareness, as implicit self-affirming...
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The present research examined the interaction between genes and culture as potential determinants of individuals' locus of attention. As the serotonin (5-HT) system has been associated with attentional focus and the ability to adapt to changes in reinforcement, we examined the serotonin 1A receptor polymorphism (5-HTR1A). Koreans and European Ameri...
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Everyday stressors can threaten valued aspects of the self. Self-affirmation theory posits that this threat could be attenuated if individuals affirm alternative self-resources. The present study examined whether self-affirmation would buffer cumulative stress responses to an ongoing academic stressor. Undergraduate participants provided 15-hr urin...
Article
Responds to R. E. Erard's comments (see record 2009-13007-011) on the current authors' original article (see record 2008-12151-002) which reviewed a number of studies that identified cultural differences in the use and effect of different types of social support among Asians and Asian Americans and European Americans. Essentially, in his comment,...
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The present study contributes a cultural analysis to the literature on the persuasive effects of matching message frame to individuals’ motivational orientations. One experiment examines how members of cultural groups that are likely to differ in their regulatory focus respond to health messages focusing on either the benefits of flossing or the co...
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The authors describe social psychological research that has found consistent beneficial effects of framing health messages to be congruent with personality factors in encouraging preventive oral health behaviors. The authors describe several studies in which they administered health messages to young adults who did not floss and who were classified...
Article
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Social support is one of the most effective means by which people can cope with stressful events. Yet little research has examined whether there are cultural differences in how people utilize their social support networks. A review of studies on culture and social support presents evidence that Asians and Asian Americans are more reluctant to expli...
Article
Background. The authors describe social psychological research that has found consistent beneficial effects of framing health messages to be congruent with personality factors in encouraging preventive oral health behaviors. Methods. The authors describe several studies in which they administered health messages to young adults who did not floss an...
Article
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Two studies investigated how generalized uncertainty affects the tendency to coordinate perceptions of the ingroup with intergroup perceptions. Across two field studies, we found that uncertainty leads to a stronger association between the perceived entitativity of an ingroup and the extent of perceived attitude polarization between the ingroup and...