Sharon Brehm

Sharon Stephens Brehm (April 18, 1945[1] - March 30, 2018)[2] was a psychologist who served as president of the American Psychological Association (APA). She taught psychology at the University of Kansas for 15 years. She held administrative roles at the Binghamton University and Ohio University before she became chancellor of Indiana University Bloomington.

Sharon Stephens Brehm
Born(1945-04-18)April 18, 1945
DiedMarch 30, 2018(2018-03-30) (aged 72)
Alma materDuke University (B.A., Ph.D.)
Harvard University (A.M.)
Known forPast president of the American Psychological Association
Scientific career
FieldsSocial psychology


Early life

Brehm was born in Roanoke, Virginia and earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Duke University. She went to Harvard University for an AM in psychology and then came back to Duke to earn a PhD.[3]


Brehm spent 15 years at the University of Kansas, where she taught psychology and directed the honors program.[4] She served as dean of arts and sciences at the Binghamton University from 1990 to 1996.[5] She later served as provost at Ohio University and she was chancellor at Indiana University Bloomington between 2001 and 2003.[6]

She served as the 2007 president of the APA. During her term, the organization created the Presidential Task Force on Integrative Healthcare for an Aging Population, APA-SRCD Task Force on Math and Science Education (with the Society for Research in Child Development) and the Presidential Task Force on Institutional Review Boards and Psychological Science.[3]


Brehm met psychologist Jack Brehm when she went to work for him as a graduate assistant. The couple got married in 1968. Though they divorced several years later, they continued to work together and even co-authored a book.[7] Jack Brehm constructed the theory of reactance and Sharon adapted it to the clinical psychology setting.[8]

In a 2013 interview, Brehm discussed her Alzheimer's disease diagnosis, the early symptoms of which had appeared in 2010.[9] She died from complications of the disease in 2018.


  • Psychological Reactance: A Theory of Freedom and Control (with J. W. Brehm, 1981)
  • Intimate Relationships (with Rowland Miller and Daniel Perlman, multiple editions)


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