Social psychologist Robb Willer to deliver April 19 convocation

April 15, 2019

Stanford University social psychologist Robb Willer will deliver Carleton College’s weekly convocation address on Friday, April 19, from 10:50-11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. In his presentation, titled, “How to Have Better Political Conversations,” Willer will highlight the social and psychological forces shaping Americans’ political attitudes and show how our moral values—often a source of division—can be used to bring people together.

Political polarization has shaped American politics over the last decade, with the ideological gap between Democrats and Republicans continuing to expand. Willer aims to address these ideological differences and focus on the effects of fear, prejudice and masculinity in contemporary U.S. politics. His primary interest is in the techniques people can use to overcome polarization and build political consensus, which he argues can be found in our shared moral values.

Willer is a professor of sociology, psychology and organizational behavior at Stanford University. His research focuses on the social dynamics of status and prestige, particularly the social psychological forces that create hierarchies of rank. He has also studied the role that emotions play in moral judgements and how those judgements can promote cooperation and solidarity among groups. Willer employs a variety of research methods, including laboratory and field experiments, surveys, archival research, social network analysis and direct observation of behavior.

Willer’s work has appeared in many sociology and psychology journals, including the American Journal of SociologyAmerican Sociological ReviewAnnual Review of SociologyJournal of Personality and Social PsychologyPsychological ScienceAdministrative Science QuarterlyProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences. He has consulted on projects with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Open Society Foundation, the Last Resort Exoneration Project, and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

Prior to joining the faculty at Stanford, Willer taught at the University of California-Berkeley, where he was the recipient of the 2009 Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching, the only teaching award given by the University of California-Berkeley student body. He received his BA from the University of Iowa and his MA and PhD in sociology from Cornell University. 

This event is sponsored by Carleton College Convocations. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located at First and College Streets in Northfield.