Michael Lamport Commons, Ph.D.   

Assistant Clinical Professor
Program in Psychiatry and the Law
Department of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
234 Huron Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138-1328
Telephone (617) 497-5270


Dr. Commons graduated Fairfax High School in 1957 and did his undergraduate work at the University of California at Berkeley, and then at Los Angeles, where in 1965 he obtained a B.A. in mathematics and one in psychology.  In 1967 he earned his M.A., and M.Phil. and in 1973 his Ph.D., in psychology from Columbia University.  Before coming to Harvard University in 1977 as a postdoctoral fellow and then becoming research associate in psychology, he was an assistant professor at Northern Michigan University and a Lecturer at the University of Manitoba.

 Currently, he is Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Mental Health Center and Research Scientist for the Program in Psychiatry and the Law there and Director of the Dare Institute, Cambridge, MA.

 In 1978, he was cofounder of Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior, (President, 2006-2007) and in 1981of The Society for Research in Adult Development, (President) and the Special Interest Group, Development and Behavior Analysis in the Association for Behavior Analysis and is Founder of the Journal of Adult Development.  He was senior editor of Quantitative Analyses of Behavior, Volumes 1-11 and senior editor of four volumes on Adult Development including Beyond Formal Operations:  Late Adolescent and Adult Cognitive Development and Clinical approaches to adult development.  Most recently Dr. Commons has been the associate editor for a Special Issue of Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior on the Nature of Reinforcement.  He is Consulting Editor, Moral Development Series. He is on the governing board of the Journal of Behavior Analysis Online.

 He is the junior co-author with J. Stevens-Long (1991) of Adult life:  Developmental processes.  Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.  Recently, he has contributed chapters, with Juan LaLlave (1995) Comparing psychodynamic, cognitive-developmental and behavior-developmental views of psychological boundaries to M. L. Commons, J. Demick, C. Goldberg (Eds.), Clinical approaches to adult development.  Norwood, NJ: Ablex; A comparison and synthesis of Kohlberg's cognitive-developmental and Gewirtz's learning-developmental attachment theories in J. L. Gewirtz & W. M. Kurtines (Eds.), Intersections with attachment; with S. R. Krause, G. Fayer, and M. Meaney, on Atmosphere and stage development in the workplace to J. Demick & P. M. Miller (Eds.), Development in the workplace.  Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum; and with G. Sonnert, T. G. Gutheil, and H. J. Bursztajn, H. J. on Ethics and decisions about suicide in Gutheil, T. G., Bursztajn, H. J., Alexander, V., & Brodsky, A. (Eds.), Decision making in psychiatry and the law.  Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.  He also contributed chapters Commons, M. L., & Miller, P. M. (2004),  Development of behavioral stages in animals.  In Marc Bekoff (Ed.).  Encyclopedia of animal behavior.  Westport, CT:  Greenwood Publishing Group as well as Commons, M. L., & Bresette, L. M.  (2006), Illuminating major creative innovators with the model of hierarchical complexity.  In C. Hoare (Ed.).  Oxford handbook of development and learning.  (255-280).  New York: Oxford.  Many of his papers are available on line at www.Dareassociation.org

 Dr. Commons' area of research interest is the quantitative analysis of the construction, understanding and experiencing of reality as it develops across the life span and evolutionarily.  He is interested in how these elements affect decision processes, life-span attachment and alliance formation in a number of domains including the ethical, moral, epistemological, esthetic and evaluative.  He studies these cross-culturally in a number of sectors the social, educational, political, medical, legal and private.

 Dr. Commons is a Licensed Psychologist and Health Care Provider in Massachusetts and a Certified Teacher.  He is a consultant for medical, legal, business and educational settings on organizational atmosphere, productivity, ethics, and professional-client relationships.

 Dr. Commons is married to Patrice Marie Miller, Ed.D., and has a son Lucas Alexander Haley Commons-Miller who attends University of California at Irvine and Nicholas Hewlett Keen Commons-Miller who attends Cambridge Rindge and Latin in Cambridge, MA