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STANFORD -- Nathan Maccoby, professor emeritus of communication and associate director of the Stanford Center for Research on Disease Prevention, and spouse of Eleanor E. Maccoby, professor emerita of psychology at Stanford, died of a heart attack Tuesday, April 14. He was 80.
Maccoby's interests ranged broadly over the uses of the behavioral sciences and mass communication for human benefit. A psychologist by training, he began his research career with studies of the effects of Army morale and training films during World War II. His research included work on the utilization of educational television for the Peace Corps, as well as studies of the application of mass communication and behavioral science for the prevention of disease.
Maccoby was internationally recognized as a leader in the field of communication research. He served as the director of the Institute for Communication Research at Stanford in the 1970s and held the Janet M. Peck chair of International Communication.
He was president of the International Communication Federation in 1974-75 and was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Communication Association, the American Psychological Association and the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
Maccoby also served as consultant to the National Institute for Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Maccoby was born in London and grew up in Portland, Ore., where he was a high school tennis champion. He earned a bachelor's degree at Reed College and a master's at the University of Washington. After World War II service in the Army's Information and Education Branch under Yale psychologist Carl Hovland, Maccoby completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan.
His first academic appointment was as Earl Newsome Professor of Opinion Research and professor of psychology and chairman of the division of research at the Boston University School of Communication and Public Relations. He came to Stanford in 1959 as professor of communication, and served as department chair in the early 1970s.
Maccoby formally retired from teaching in 1977, turning full- time to a program of research in the uses of communication for disease prevention. This "second career" continued a program he had begun six years before retirement, as co-principal investigator on the "Three Community Study," and later the "Five Cities Study," which field-tested the effectiveness of various communication strategies in reducing heart disease risk factors among residents of California communities. He was published widely in academic journals of psychology, communication and public health.
He is survived by his wife, daughters Sara Bellina and Janice Carmichael, son Mark, and five grandchildren.
A private service was held Thursday, April 16.
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