Robert MacCoun is a social psychologist and public policy analyst who has published numerous studies on a variety of topics, including illicit drug use, drug policy, judgment and decision-making, citizens’ assessments of fairness in the courts, social influence processes, and bias in the use and interpretation of research evidence by scientists, journalists and citizens. A preeminent scholar working at the border of law and psychology, his scholarship involves a mix of experimental and non-experimental empirical research as well as computational modeling and simulation. In 2019, MacCoun received the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award of the Association for Psychological Science, which “honors distinguished APS Members for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to applied psychological research.”
MacCoun’s recent publications include “Hide Results to Seek the Truth,” Nature (2015), “Half Baked: The Retail Promotion of Marijuana Edibles,” New England Journal of Medicine (2015), and “The Burden of Social Proof: Shared Thresholds and Social Influence,” Psychological Review, (2012).
MacCoun’s book with Peter Reuter, Drug War Heresies (Cambridge, 2001) is considered a landmark scholarly analysis of the drug legalization debate. MacCoun has also written extensively on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. His publications and expert testimony on military unit cohesion were influential in the 1993 and 2010 policy debates about allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the US military.
Prior to joining SLS in 2014, MacCoun was a member of the faculties of the Law School and the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford Law School and at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. From 1986 to 1993 he was a behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation, where he served as a staff member at the Institute for Civil Justice and the Drug Policy Research Center as well as a faculty member at the RAND Graduate School of Policy Studies.
MacCoun also holds a joint appointment as a Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University and a courtesy appointment in the Department of Psychology.