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 the research we are conducting is concerned with judgment and decision making.

Some of our work examines the fundamental processes through which decisions are made. A 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 examining 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. Some of our work examines the central role of social attitudes in interpersonal encounters. We have also been conducting research with Steve Posavac on consumer attitudes and decision making. 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.

Our newest line of research is taking an empirical approach to examining the strategies used by scientists to test their hypotheses and theories. We believe that our knowledge of basic judgmental processes provides us with a unique perspective of the scientific inference process.

Opportunities For Students

I will be recruiting a graduate student to begin in the fall of 2016.

We are currently seeking volunteer undergraduate research assistants to help with our projects. If you are interested, please email me your GPA and a brief description of your coursework and career interests.


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

Selected Publications

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Posavac, S. S., Behrends, A. A., Moore, S. M., & Uchino, B. N. (in press). Why a confirmation strategy dominates psychological science. PLoS ONE.

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Mazur, D., Behrends, A. A., & Moore, S. M. (in press). The role of the frequency of correspondent behavior and trait stereotypes in trait attribution: Building on Rothbart and Park (1986). Social Cognition.

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Strayer, D. L., Biondi, F., Behrends, A. A., & Moore, S. M. (2015). Cell Phone Use Diminishes Self-Awareness of Impaired Driving. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. doi: 10.3758/s13423-015-0922-4.

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.

My current graduate students

Arwen Behrends
Shannon Moore