Robert J. Waldinger

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Robert J. Waldinger
BornMarch 1, 1951
Omaha, Nebraska
Occupation(s)Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst
Known forHarvard Study of Adult Development, Glueck Study, Grant Study, TED Talk, Zen teaching
SpouseJennifer A. Stone (psychologist)
ChildrenDaniel C. Waldinger, David S. Waldinger
Parent(s)David Waldinger, Miriam Passman Waldinger
Academic background
Alma materHarvard College, Harvard Medical School
Academic work
DisciplinePsychiatry, psychodynamic therapy

Robert J. Waldinger (born 1951) is an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen priest. He is a part-time Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever conducted.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Waldinger grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1973.[citation needed] He completed his M.D. at Harvard Medical School in 1978.[citation needed]


Waldinger directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development. The study tracked the lives of 724 men for over 80 years and now studies their baby boomer children[2] to understand how childhood experience reaches across decades to affect health and wellbeing in middle age (see Grant Study). 

Waldinger writes about scientific approaches to healthy human development and is the Founding Director of the Lifespan Research Foundation, which presents the insights of lifespan research to the general public.[3]

Waldinger is the author of numerous scientific papers[4] as well as two books.[5][6] He directs a teaching program in psychodynamic psychotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He has won awards for teaching and research from the American Psychiatric Association, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts Psychiatric Society.[citation needed]

Waldinger is also a Zen priest and sensei (transmitted teacher) in both Sōtō and Rinzai lineages, and teaches Zen in New England and internationally. His TED talk on lessons from the longest study of happiness has had over 40 million views and is the fastest spreading talk in the history of TEDx events.[7]  


  1. ^ "Over nearly 80 years, Harvard study has been showing how to live a healthy and happy life". Harvard Gazette. 2017-04-11. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  2. ^ "Harvard Second Generation Study". Harvard Second Generation Study. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  3. ^ "About Us". Lifespan Research Foundation. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  4. ^ "Robert Waldinger | Harvard Catalyst Profiles | Harvard Catalyst". Retrieved 2021-12-27.
  5. ^ Frosch, William A. (May 1991). "Effective Therapy With Borderline Patients: Case Studies—by Robert J. Waldinger, M. D., and John G. Gunderson, M. D.; Washington, D. C., American Psychiatric Press, 1989, 232 pages, $27.50; originally published by Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987". Psychiatric Services. 42 (5): 543–543. doi:10.1176/ps.42.5.543. ISSN 1075-2730.
  6. ^ Waldinger, Robert J. (1997). Psychiatry for medical students. American Psychiatric Press. ISBN 0-88048-003-3. OCLC 758323245.
  7. ^ Waldinger, Robert (November 2015), TED Talk: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness, retrieved 27 December 2021