Sharon Stephens Brehm, PhD

During 2007 Dr. Brehm worked to stimulate conversation on several issues important to psychology and members of the association. 

The association faced many crucial challenges:

  • Increasing membership

  • Ensuring a diverse community of psychologists

  • Encouraging the growing interest in interdisciplinary science

  • Strengthening the internationalization of psychology

  • Supporting prescriptive privileges

  • Engaging other scientific organizations and publishers to maintain the peer review system


Sharon Stephens Brehm is professor of psychology in the clinical and social programs at Indiana University Bloomington. Born and raised in Roanoke, VA, she received a BA in psychology from Duke University, an AM in clinical psychology from Harvard University, returned to Duke for a PhD in clinical psychology, and completed a clinical psychology internship at the University of Washington Medical Center. After 15 years on the psychology faculty at the University of Kansas, she served as dean of the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at the State University of New York, Binghamton, provost at Ohio University, and chancellor of the Indiana University Bloomington campus.

Trained as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Brehm specialized in child clinical psychology, focused increasingly on social psychology, advocated the integration of clinical and social psychology, and encouraged a stronger dialogue between developmental and social psychology. Her empirical research has examined the effects of psychological reactance, empathy, and self-focus. The scope of her work includes providing professional advice for the general public in Help for Your Child: A Parent's Guide to Mental Health Services; editing a collection of papers by feminist scholars, Seeing Female: Social Roles and Personal Lives; and coauthoring with Jack Brehm a comprehensive theoretical and empirical review, Psychological Reactance: A Theory of Freedom and Control. Two multiauthored textbooks continue to be highly regarded and widely adopted: Intimate Relationships by Rowland Miller, Daniel Perlman, and Dr. Brehm in its fourth edition, and Social Psychology by Dr. Brehm, Saul Kassin, and Steven Fein in its sixth edition.

Dr. Brehm has been an Intra-University Professor at the University of Kansas, a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and a visiting professor in Germany and Italy. She was chair of the governing board of OhioLINK, the statewide higher education library consortium; founding chair of the governing board of the Ohio Learning Network; and a member of the American Council on Education's Commission on International Education. Currently, she serves on the boards of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Institute of International Education, Medaille College, and the Bloomington Area Arts Council.

Her service to psychology includes chairing the Discipline Screening Committee for Fulbright Awards in Psychology and membership on numerous journal editorial boards and the National Institute of Mental Health Mental Health Small Grant Review Committee. In APA, she served two terms on the Council of Representatives and two terms on the Finance Committee. She is a member of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (Division 2), Developmental Psychology (Division 7), Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (Division 9), Society of Consulting Psychology (Division 13), Adult Development and Aging (Division 20), Society for the Psychology of Women (Division 35), Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (Division 53), and a fellow of the Society for General Psychology (Division 1), Society for Personality and Social Psychology (Division 8), the Society of Clinical Psychology (Division 12), and International Psychology (Division 52).


Dr. Brehm's initiatives focused on three topics that she believed were particularly important to psychologists, the association, and the general public.

Integrative healthcare refers to having psychologists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals working together to treat the "whole person." This approach is useful for many patient populations, but perhaps particularly for the elderly. The first U.S. cohort of the baby-boomer generation turns 65 in 2011 and the last cohort will reach 65 in 2026. In the United States and many other countries, this combination of large birth cohorts and greater longevity will produce the greatest proportion of elderly individuals in the history of humankind. According to Dr. Brehm, “I firmly believe that the aging of the boomers will create the opportunity for a significant restructuring of healthcare in the United States. Integrative healthcare, using interdisciplinary teams, will become a vital and basic component of this restructuring.” The Presidential Task Force on Integrative Healthcare for an Aging Population was Co-Chaired by Toni Antonucci, PhD, and Toni Zeiss, PhD.

Dr. Brehm's second initiative also focused on the future. She explained “The United States is already having a hard time competing in math and science—and the technology that is based on math and science—with the growing expertise in other countries such as India and China. This is obviously one of the most significant issues our country faces in terms of its long-term economic prosperity.” Dr. Brehm worked closely with Nora Newcombe, PhD, Chair of the Task Force, and Aletha Huston, PhD, President of the Society of Research on Child Development (SRCD), to create the joint APA-SRCD Task Force on Math and Science Education. The goals of this task force included articulating the importance of psychology in improving math and science education, and emphasizing the role of psychology in contributing to public policy affecting math and science education.

The topic of Dr. Brehm's third initiative was of vital importance to the scientific community: the working relationship between institutional review boards (IRBs) and psychological scientists. Chaired by Thomas Eissenberg, PhD, this Presidential Task Force on Institutional Review Boards and Psychological Science conducted a comprehensive review and analysis of this relationship. In particular, the task force identified "disconnects" between psychologists and IRBs that lead to perceived and/or actual conflict. The task force also articulated ways in which to improve the relationship between IRBs and investigators such that both constituencies work together to protect research participants. The goal of this task force was to articulate ways in which ethical standards are rigorously maintained and psychological science can flourish.