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David O. Sears [Edit Page]

Distinguished Professor

Ph. D., Yale University

Social Psychology

Contact Information

Office: 5445B FH

Phone: (310) 825-2160


Research and Teaching Interests


DAVID O. SEARS is Professor of Psychology and Political
Science, former Dean of Social Sciences, and current Director
of the Institute for Social Science Research at the University
of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Sears received his B.A. in
History from Stanford University, his Ph.D. in Psychology from
Yale University in 1962, and since then has taught at UCLA. He
has held visiting faculty positions at Harvard University and
the University of California, Berkeley, has been a Fellow at
the Brookings Institution and the Center for Advanced Study in
the Behavioral Sciences, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow. In
1991, he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts
and Sciences; in 1992, President of the Society for the
Advancement of Socio-Economics; and in 1994, President of the
International Society of Political Psychology. His books
include Public Opinion (with Robert E. Lane), The Politics of
Violence: The New Urban Blacks and the Watts Riot (with John
B. McConahay), Tax Revolt: Something for Nothing in California
(with Jack Citrin), Political Cognition (edited with Richard
R. Lau), Racialized Politics: The Debate about Racism in
America (edited with Jim Sidanius and Lawrence Bobo), Social
Psychology (12 editions, currently co-authored with Shelley E.
Taylor and L. Anne Peplau), and the Handbook of Political
Psychology (edited with Leonie Huddy and Robert Jervis).
He has published articles and book chapters on a wide variety
of topics, including attitude change, mass communications,
ghetto riots, political socialization, voting behavior, and
race and politics.


My general research interests are in social psychology;
political psychology; intergroup conflict; attitudes and the
life cycle. My current research falls into five specific

1. Racism in politics. A number of projects continue my
interest in the origins and effects of a "new,"
post-civil-rights era, racism in politics, which we describe
as "symbolic racism." It is the most common and most
politically powerful form of racism in American politics
today. We also have pursued the idea of "black
exceptionalism," that white Americans treat Latinos and Asian
Americans more like the European immigrants of a century ago
than like African Americans, who continue to face a relatively
impermeable color line (with Danny Osborne, P.J. Henry, Chris Tarman, and
Colette van Laar).

2. Southern realignment to the Republican party. A related
line of research investigates the long-term continuities of
racial politics in the South. In particular it examines the
role of white racism, based in a long history of racial
antagonism in the South, and today embedded in Christian
fundamentalism, as a force that has successfully moved many
white Southerners to the Republican party (with Nicholas

3. Political multiculturalism. The expanded ethnic and
racial diversity in the United States and other western
nations has brought with it proposals for greater formal
recognition of ethnic and racial identity in politics, law,
and other social institutions, growing out of the
"multicultural" movement. This raises a number of important
psychological questions, concerning the determinants of strong
ethnic identity, the role of exposure to American racial
politics (as opposed to assimilationist tendencies) in
determining the long-term integration of immigrant minorities,
the complex links between American and ethnic identity among
ethnic minorities, and the determinants of white Americans'
attitudes toward immigration, liberal language policies,
affirmative action, and other ethnic entitlements (with Jack
Citrin, P.J. Henry, and Vika Savalei).

4. The effects of terrorist attacks on domestic intergroup
relations. It was widely speculated that the terrorist
attacks of September 11 produced a reduction in intergroup
tensions within the United States, as Americans of all creeds
and colors came together in a united front. That is a
testable social psychological proposition (with Ludwin Molina and
Sabrina Pagano).

5. Life cycle effects on attitudes. I continue to maintain a
long-term interest in the effects of early political
socialization, especially on politically important attitudes
such as partisanship, ideology, racism, and ethnic identity.
This raises fundamental questions about the relative power of
realistic adulthood forces (such as self-interest) as opposed
to the residues of pre-adulthood, or early-adult, attitudes in
determining attitudes toward political issues in later
adulthood (with P. J. Henry, Kate Fu, Carolyn Funk, Gail Sahar, and Nicholas Valentino).


David O. Sears Publications

Faculty Awards