You are here:

David Sanbonmatsu, Ph.D.

David Sanbonmatsu, Ph.D.

Professor, Social Psychology

Curriculum Vitae

Program for Underrepresented and Disadvantaged Scholars

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. Most of the research we are conducting is concerned with judgment, decision making, and performance.

Some of our work examines the fundamental processes through which decisions are made. One current study is examining the conditions under which a confirmatory search biases the testing of ideas. We are also investigating the dynamics of serial decision making. These are decisions in which alternatives are assessed one at a time and where people often pass on good options in the hopes of later encountering better options. Finally, our research investigates the basic role of the self in the formation of performance expectations and the decision to take on a task.

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 contributing to the hypocrisy of cell phone use behind the wheel while simultaneously supporting legislation to restrict this practice. 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. Research with Steve Posavac investigates consumer attitudes and decision making. Our studies with Bert Uchino examine 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 takes an empirical approach to examining the strategies used by scientists to test their hypotheses and theories. We believe that our knowledge of basic inference processes provides us with a unique perspective on how science works.

Opportunities For Students

I will be recruiting a student to begin graduate study in the fall of 2017.


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

Selected Publications

Moore, S. M., Behrends, A. A., Mazur, D., and Sanbonmatsu, D. M. (in press). When do people bet on their selves? The role of global vs. specific self-concepts in decision making. Self and Identity. DOI: 10.1080/15298868.2016.1175372.

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Strayer, D. L., Behrends, A. A., Medeiros-Ward, N., and Watson, J. M. (2016). Why drivers use cell phones and why they support legislation to restrict this practice. Accident Analysis and Prevention. 92, 22-33.

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Posavac, S. S., Behrends, A. A., Moore, S. M., & Uchino, B. N. (2015). Why a confirmation strategy dominates psychological science. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138197.

Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Mazur, D., Behrends, A. A., & Moore, S. M. (2015). The role of the frequency of correspondent behavior and trait stereotypes in trait attribution: Building on Rothbart and Park (1986). Social Cognition, 33, 255-283.

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. 

My Current Graduate Students

Shannon Moore

Last Updated: 2/27/18