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We study human cognition and behavior from an evolutionary perspective. We are particularly interested in the evolutionary and developmental roots of human sociality. Most of what makes humans such unusual primates has to do, in one way or another, with our especially social and cultural lifestyles, which result in cooperative forms of thinking and acting. We address questions about the evolution and development of socio-cognitive skills by comparing humans to other animals (mostly chimpanzees, our closest living relatives) and by studying how children develop in different societies.

Latest News

Jan discusses our work on NPR’s On Point with Meghna Chakrabarti!


University of California, Berkeley
2121 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94704, USA

Recent Publications

Engelmann, J.M., Völter, C.J., O’Madagain, C., Proft, M., Haun, D.B.M., Rakoczy, H. & Herrmann, E. (2021) Chimpanzees consider alternative possibilities. Current Biology.

Engelmann, J.M., Zhang, Z., Zeidler, H., Dunham, Y., & Herrmann, E. (2021) The influence of friendship and merit on children’s resource allocation in three societies. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 208. 105149.


How do children become rational human beings who are capable of contributing to civil society?