Robb Willer

Professor (by courtesy), Organizational Behavior

Robb Willer

Professor of Organizational Behavior (by courtesy)

Professor of Sociology, School of Humanities and Sciences
Academic Area:

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

Alexander P. Landry, Jonathan W. Schooler, Robb Willer, Paul Seli
Social Psychological and Personality Science
2023 Vol. 14 Issue 4 Pages 407–418
Luiza A. Santos, Jan G. Voelkel, Robb Willer, Jamil Zaki
Psychological Science
August 2022
Sheridan Stewart, Robb Willer
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations
October 18, 2021
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

Working Papers

Sophia Pink, James Chu, James Druckman, David Rand, Robb Willer April 6, 2021
Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg, Rachel Wetts May 4, 2016

Stanford University Affiliations

Insights by Stanford Business

November 02, 2022
Practical advice for avoiding divisiveness and working with people with different views.
October 19, 2022
Stanford GSB faculty and alumni discuss ways citizens, leaders, and organizations can begin to bridge the political gap. (Part 1)
October 17, 2022
Researchers are looking for ways to convince partisans that conflict doesn’t have to devolve into dehumanization.
May 11, 2021
In a polarized nation, a dose of partisan public health messaging can be more effective.
February 19, 2021
Extreme actions draw attention to a cause but erode public support — and many protestors fail to see the link.
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 06, 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 01, 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.