David Sanbonmatsu, Ph.D.

Professor, Social Psychology

Contact Information

Office: 702 BEHS
Phone: (801) 581-8505

Research Interests

I am fortunate to be collaborating with a number of faculty colleagues who are leaders in their fields and two very capable graduate students in Arwen Behrends and Shannon Moore. Most of our research is concerned with judgment and decision making.

Some of our work examines the fundamental processes through which decisions are made. A current collaboration with Jeanine Stefanucci investigates how emotions combine with reasoning to determine choice. A study planned for the fall examines the impact of the priming of alternatives on the choice reasoning process.

Another line of research is concerned with applied decision making. David Strayer and I have conducted several studies investigating the causes and consequences of cell phone use while driving. Some of our work has examined the attitudes and beliefs underlying cell phone use behind the wheel and contributing to the support for legislation to restrict this usage of cell phones. Our research has also examined more generally why people multi-task. Interestingly, our findings indicate that the people who multi-task the most tend to be the worst at it. Most recently, we have been investigating the effects of distractions such as cell phones on the self-regulation of driving.

Our longest standing line of research has been concerned with the impact of attitudes on behavior. One current study attempts to show that the role of attitudes in decision making and behavior is much more extensive than current theory postulates. We have also been conducting research with Steve Posavac on consumer attitudes and decision making. Our latest study investigates how product beliefs shape brand awareness and brand attitudes. Finally, Bert Uchino and I have been investigating the important role of attitude familiarity in social interactions. Because attitudes are central to behavior, knowing others’ attitudes is crucial for providing support, avoiding conflict, and maintaining close relationships.


Ph.D., Indiana University (1987)
B.S., University of California-Davis (1979)

Selected Publications

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Strayer, D. L., Medeiros-Ward, N., and Watson, J. M. (2013). Who multi-tasks and why? Multi-tasking ability, perceived multi-tasking ability, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. PLoS ONE, 8(1), e54402. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054402

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Uchino, B. N.*, Wong, K. K., & Seo, J. Y. (2012). Getting along better: The role of attitude familiarity in relationship functioning. Social Cognition, 30, 350-361.

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Mazur, D., Pfeifer, B. E., Posavac, S. S., & Kardes, F. R. (2012). The less the public knows the better? The effects of increased knowledge on celebrity evaluations. Basic and Applied Social Psychology. 34. 499-507.

Sanbonmatsu, D. M, Posavac, S. S., Vanous, S., Ho, E. A., & Fazio, R. H. (2007). The deautomatization of accessible attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 365-378.

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Posavac, S. S., Vanous, S., & Ho, E. A. (2005). Information search in the testing of quantified hypotheses: How "all", "most", "some", "few", and "none" hypotheses are tested. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 254-266.

My current graduate students

Arwen Behrends
Shannon Moore