Robert Kahn

Professor Emeritus of Psychology, College of LSA, Professor Emeritus of Health Services Management and Policy, Sch of Public Health and Research Scientist Emeritus, Survey Research Center, ISR


Robert L. Kahn is a social psychologist at the University of Michigan, where he is now professor emeritus of psychology and of public health. He is also research scientist emeritus at the Institute for Social Research, of which he was a founder. Dr. Kahn was the director of the Survey Research Center from 1970 to 1976.

Dr. Kahn’s research has concentrated for many years on two main areas: organizational behavior and aging. His early books and articles on organizations analyzed their overall effectiveness and the factors that determined it (Katz, D. and Kahn, R.L. 1966,1978. The Social Psychology of Organizations. New York: Wiley). His later work on organizations was more concerned with the impact of organizational demands on the health of their members (Kahn, R.L. 1981. Work and Health. New York: Wiley; Kahn, R.L. et al. 1964. Organizational Stress. New York: Wiley). With Mayer Zald and others, Kahn also explored the relevance of organizational research for international relations (Kahn, R.L. and Zald, M.N. (Eds.). Organizations and Nation-States: New Perspectives on Conflict and Cooperation. San Francisco; Jossey-Bass).

His work on aging, supported by the MacArthur Foundation and the National Institute on Aging, is best represented by publications co-authored with John W. Rowe, especially Successful Aging (New York: Pantheon 1998; Dell 1999). This book summarizes more than 10 years of work by members of the interdisciplinary MacArthur Research Network on Successful Aging. Their research demonstrates the importance of life-style choices and behavior for minimizing the risk of disease and disability, maintaining physical and mental function, and continuing productive activities throughout old age.

Dr. Kahn has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford) and at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (Wassenaar). He is also a fellow of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He holds the Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan and (hon.) from the University of Amsterdam.