Robb Willer is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Sociology, Psychology (by courtesy), and the Graduate School of Business (by courtesy) at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from Cornell University and his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Iowa. He previously taught at the University of California, Berkeley.
Professor Willer’s teaching and research focus on the bases of social order. One line of his research investigates the factors driving the emergence of collective action, norms, solidarity, generosity, and status hierarchies. In other research, he explores the social psychology of political attitudes, including the effects of fear, prejudice, and masculinity in contemporary U.S. politics. Most recently, his work has focused on morality, studying how people reason about what is right and wrong and the social consequences of their judgments. His research involves various empirical and theoretical methods, including laboratory and field experiments, surveys, direct observation, archival research, physiological measurement, agent-based modeling, and social network analysis.
Willer’s research has appeared in such journals as American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Annual Review of Sociology, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Psychological Science, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, and Social Networks. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. His work has received paper awards from the American Sociological Association’s sections on Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity, Mathematical Sociology, Peace, War, and Social Conflict, and Rationality and Society.
His research has also received widespread media coverage including from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Washington Post, Science, Nature, Time, U.S. News and World Report, Scientific American, Harper’s, Slate, CNN, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, and National Public Radio.
Willer was the 2009 recipient of the Golden Apple Teaching award, the only teaching award given by UC-Berkeley's student body.
Status, Morality, Prosocial Behavior, Political Attitudes, Gender
Robb Willer, Christabel Rogalin, Bridget Conlon, and Michael T. Wojnowicz. 2013. “Overdoing Gender: A Test of the Masculine Overcompensation Thesis.” American Journal of Sociology. In press.
Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer. 2013. “The Moral Roots of Environmental Attitudes.” Psychological Science. In press.
Brent Simpson, Ashley Harrell, and Robb Willer. 2013. “Hidden Paths from Morality to Social Order: Moral Judgments Promote Prosocial Behavior.” Social Forces. In press.
Robb Willer, Francis J. Flynn, and Sonya Zak. 2012. “Structure, Identity and Solidarity: A Comparative Field Study of Generalized and Direct Exchange.” Administrative Science Quarterly. 57:119-155.
Matthew Feinberg, Robb Willer, Jennifer Stellar, and Dacher Keltner. 2012. “The Virtues of Gossip: Reputational Information Sharing as Prosocial Behavior.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 102:1015-1030.
Cameron Anderson, Robb Willer, Gavin J. Kilduff, and Courtney Brown. 2012. “The Origins of Deference: When Do People Prefer Lower Status?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 102:1077-1088.
Matthew Feinberg, Robb Willer, and Dacher Keltner. 2012. “Flustered and Faithful: Embarrassment as a Signal of Prosocial Behavior.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 102:81-97.
Brent Simpson, Robb Willer, and Cecilia Ridgeway. 2012. “Status Hierarchies and the Organization of Collective Action.” Sociological Theory. 30: 149-166.
Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer. 2011. “Apocalypse Soon? Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just World Beliefs.” Psychological Science. 22:34-38.
Robb Willer, Ko Kuwabara, and Michael W. Macy. 2009. “The False Enforcement of Unpopular Norms.” American Journal of Sociology. 115:451-90.
Robb Willer. 2009. “Groups Reward Individual Sacrifice: The Status Solution to the Collective Action Problem.” American Sociological Review. 74:23-43.