Richard Sorrentino

Dr. Richard Sorrentino

Professor Emeritus - Social and Personality Psychology


  • Bio

  • Publications

  • Research

Biographical Information

B.A. - State University of New York at Buffalo, 1965
M.A. - The American University, 1967
Ph.D. - State University of New York at Buffalo, 1971

Selected Publications

Shuper, P., Sorrentino, R. M., Otsubo, Y. Hodson, G. and Walker, A. M. (2004). A theory of uncertainty orientation: Implications for the study of individual differences within and across cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 35(4), 460-481.

Sorrentino, R. M., & Higgins, E. T. (Eds.) (Vol. 1, 1986;, Vol. 2, 1990; Vol. 3, 1996). The Handbook of Motivation and Cognition. New York : The Guilford Press.

Sorrentino, R. M., Otsubo, Y., Yasunaga, S. Nezlek, J., Kouhara, S. & Shuper, P. (2005). Uncertainty orientation and social behavior: Individual differences within and across cultures. In R. M. Sorrentino, D. Cohen, J. M. Olson, & M. P. Zanna (Eds.) Culture and Social Behavior: The Ontario Symposium . Vol. 10. New York : Lawrence Earlbaum Associates. (181-205).

Sorrentino, R. M. and Roney, C. J. R. (2000) The Uncertain Mind: Individual Differences in Facing the Unknown. London : Psychology Press.

Sorrentino, R. M., Smithson, M. L. , Hodson, G., Roney, C. J. R., & Walker, M. A. A (2003). Theory of uncertainty orientation: A Mathematical Reformulation. Journal of Mathematical Psychology , 47(2) 132‑149.


Research interests are primarily devoted to examining the interface between motivation and cognition. Interest in cross-cultural research as related to uncertainty orientation has also increased, as has testing our notions using social-psychophysiological measures. The specific substantive areas are: (1) Motivation and Cognition : A theory of individual difference in thought and action has been developed and hypotheses tested. This stems from research relating uncertainty orientation to achievement behaviour. However, the theory has been applied to numerous areas of social psychology (e.g., social influence, social comparison, group polarization, attitude change and persuasion) and general psychology (e.g., cognitive, developmental, clinical, industrial/organizational). Currently we are testing our notions against contemporary theories such as the theory of self-regulation, and hierarchical theories of motivation. We are also testing whether social-psychophysiological measures of challenge and threat will contribute to our understanding of the underlying dynamics related to social motivation and cognition. (2) Cross Cultural Research : Our recent research has demonstrated that one of the key differences between East Asian and Euro-American cultures may be how these cultures cope with uncertainty. We have also shown that different ways of coping with uncertainty within cultures may lead to differential effects related to emotion, self-esteem, and optimism. Future research is continuing along these lines.

Other Interests:

Miata enthusiast , Buffalo Bills fan , and really nice guy