Robb Willer

Robb Willer
Professor (by courtesy), Organizational Behavior
Contact Info
Professor of Sociology, School of Humanities and Sciences
Academic Area: 
Organizational Behavior

Research Interests

  • Morality
  • Politics
  • Generosity
  • Status
  • Masculinity


Robb Willer is a 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 Sociology 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.

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Sociology, Cornell University, 2006
  • M.A., Cornell University, 2004
  • B.A., University of Iowa, 1999
  • Director, Laboratory for Social Research, University of California Berkeley, 2006-13
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Psychology (by courtesy) and Cognitive Sciences (affiliated faculty), University of California Berkeley, 2006-12

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Sociology, Stanford University
  • Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, 2012-13
  • Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California Berkeley, 2012-13
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Economics and Social Psychology, University of Cologne Germany, 2011


Journal Articles

Matthew Feinberg, Robb Willer, Chloe Kovacheff. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. November 2020, Vol. 119, Issue 5, Pages 1086–1111.
Rachel Wetts, Robb Willer. Social Forces. December 2018, Vol. 97, Issue 2, Pages 793-822.
Brent Simpson, Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World. October 11, 2018, Vol. 4, Pages 1-14.
Andrei Boutyline, Robb Willer. Political Psychology. June 2017, Vol. 38, Issue 3, Pages 551-569.
Gavin J. Kilduff, Robb Willer, Camerson Anderson. Organization SCience. March 18, 2016, Vol. 27, Issue 2, Pages 373-390.
Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. December 1, 2015, Vol. 41, Issue 12, Pages 1665-1681.
Jojanneke van der Toorn, Matthew Feinberg, John T. Jost, Aaron C. Kay, Tom R. Tyler, Robb Willer, Caroline Wilmuth. Political Psychology. February 2015, Vol. 36, Issue 1, Pages 93-110.
Matthew Feinberg, Robb Willer, Michael Schultz. Psychological Science. March 2014, Vol. 25, Issue 3, Pages 656-664.
Robb Willer, Francis J. Flynn, Sonya Zak. Administrative Science Quarterly. May 9, 2012, Vol. 57, Issue 1, Pages 119-155.

Stanford University Affiliations

Greater Stanford University

Insights by Stanford Business

October 21, 2020
Stanford researchers measure the depth of our partisan divide — and suggest some ways to bridge it.
October 21, 2020
Stanford researchers study the various tactics that politicians use to get voters on their side, from “moral reframing” to two-faced deception.
March 18, 2020
Reframe your argument to reflect the other side’s values.
June 6, 2019
In political messaging, values can be more persuasive than policies, a new study finds.
October 30, 2018
A study shows that both liberal and conservative protests have had a real impact on U.S. House elections.
April 10, 2017
We are as motivated by others’ approval as we are by material profit, new research shows.
December 19, 2016
Read 10 Stanford Business stories from the past year, including pieces on work-life balance, power, and management.
December 12, 2016
Long commute? Spend the time listening to these 10 Stanford Business stories.
July 15, 2016
New research explores the link between racial animosity and the Tea Party movement.
February 1, 2016
Stanford GSB professors share their reading list for topics related to impact.
November 16, 2015
How external factors pressure people to cooperate.
April 23, 2015
Researchers find that feeling powerless can lead people to support systems that disadvantage them.