Department Profiles Sherman Kwok

Sherman KwokSherman Kwok

Sherman is a 4th year PhD candidate who is supervised by Joanne Wood in our Social Psychology area who is working on  the processes that lay the groundwork for the growth of love. Specifically, his research focuses on personality differences in people’s communication tendencies.

In one line of research, Sherman studies how the personality trait of agreeableness affects people’s expressions of hurt feelings. Agreeable people are nice, sympathetic, and warm. They are also very trusting—they have faith that their partner loves them through thick and thin. Sherman posits that this feature of agreeable people promotes positive responses when their feelings are hurt by their romantic partner, which may ultimately help resolve hurt feelings. In his studies, he has found that compared to less agreeable people, highly agreeable people are (a) more forgiving, (b) less likely to blame their partner, (c) more likely to express hurt feelings in positive-direct ways (e.g., calmly discuss the problem with their partner), and (d) less likely to express hurt feelings in negative-direct ways (e.g., seeking revenge).

In another line of research, Sherman investigates how agreeable people express affection in romantic relationships. Agreeable people are known to have high quality relationships, but why? Sherman proposes that agreeable people attain satisfying relationships by expressing affection in ways that are especially focused on their partner’s needs and interests (e.g., doing partner favors, making them their favourite meals). In several studies, he found that not only are agreeable people more affectionate than people lower in agreeableness, agreeable people also express affection in ways that specifically address their partner’s needs.


Sherman has shared his research at the conference organized by the Society of Personality and Social Psychology in the United States.  He won the Graduate Student Poster Award and received a Graduate Student Travel Award two years ago. This year, his research symposium was accepted (~30% acceptance rate). In this symposium, in addition to presenting his own work, Sherman brought together other researchers to present work on the topic of the benefits of responsiveness in romantic relationships.  

Sherman also presented his research at the conference organized by the International Association of Relationship Research last year. He was also selected as one of the 16 Attendees to the Love Consortium Workshop. At the workshop, he had the opportunity to learn from leading researchers in relationship science about the latest trends in the field, as well as to network with other graduate students from all over the world (e.g., New Zealand, Canada, the U.S.).

Check out more of Sherman's research:

Sherman cites the rich resources available at UW to conduct rigorous research as one of his favourite things about being a student at UW along with the quiet and tranquility of the campus.  Sherman picked UW for graduate studies based on the excellence of the faculty members and graduate students he met when he visited as a prospective student and he mentioned the people in the Department, specifically his supervisor and everyone in the Social area, as his favourite things about the Department.