Leading Psychologist and Behavioral Scientist Robert MacCoun Joins Stanford Law School

Augmenting Empirical Research and Interdisciplinary Policy Work of Faculty

STANFORD, Calif., May 19, 2014 —Stanford Law School today announced that Robert (Rob) MacCoun, currently a professor of law and public policy at Berkeley Law School, will join the Stanford faculty as professor of law, effective summer 2014. He will also hold a joint appointment with the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University as senior fellow.

Photo courtesy of University of California, Berkeley.

Professor MacCoun is a renowned psychologist and behavioral scientist whose prolific scholarship, teaching, and outside work have been focused on illicit drug use, drug policy, alternative dispute resolution, judgment and decision-making, social influence, and bias in the use and interpretation of research evidence by scientists, journalists, and citizens. MacCoun was a visiting professor at SLS in 2012.

“We are excited to welcome Rob back to SLS,”  said M. Elizabeth Magill, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School. “Rob is not only one of the preeminent scholars working at the border of law and psychology, but an incisive, empirically grounded policy analyst. He both brings substantial new expertise to our faculty and deepens significant existing strengths.”

“Before I began my two-quarter visit at Stanford Law School, I knew I’d be exposed to the highest caliber of legal theory and analysis. But then I discovered that it’s also an intensely interdisciplinary environment, with faculty engaged in empirical social science, the humanities, science and technology, and real-world problem solving. The students I taught were as interested in understanding people and communities as they were in understanding the law,” said MacCoun.

MacCoun’s recent publications include “Moral Outrage and opposition to harm reduction,” Criminal Law & Philosophy, 7, 83-98, (2013); “The Burden of Social Proof: Shared Thresholds and Social Influence,” Psychological Review, (2012); and “An Agnostic’s Guide to the Drug Legalization Debate,” Annual Review of Law & Social Science (2011).

MacCoun has also written extensively on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. His analyses of military unit cohesion, which was featured in a landmark RAND study, was influential in the 1993 and 2010 policy debates about allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the US military.

“Rob is, above all, a superb policy analyst with the willingness and ability to bring a wide array of tools to bear in analyzing important policy questions,” said Mark Kelman, James C. Gaither Professor of Law and Vice Dean. “He has been especially active in three policy arenas: first and foremost, drug policy, but also gays in the military and the problem of corruption or bias in research. Stanford Law has justly gained great renown as the place to do empirically grounded analysis of real world problems, and Rob’s arrival will strengthen us immeasurably as we confront these policy challenges.”

“I am thrilled by this opportunity to join the SLS community, which feels like a microcosm of the university as a whole,” said MacCoun.

More on Rob MacCoun
Prior to his faculty appointment at Stanford Law School, MacCoun was a member of the Boalt law faculty (1999-present) and the faculty of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Policy (1993-1999). From 1986 to 1993 he was a behavioral scientist at The RAND Corporation. He has been a Visiting Professor at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and Stanford Law School. He holds a BA (1980) from Kalamazoo College, a MA (1983) from Michigan State University and a PhD (1984) from Michigan State University.

About Stanford Law School
Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective, and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.