Welcome to the Social Origins Lab!

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

The Social Origins Lab is accepting graduate students!


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

Recent Publications

Engelmann, J. M., Haux, L. M., & Herrmann, E. (2019). Helping in young children and chimpanzees shows partiality towards friends. Evolution and Human Behavior.

Herrmann, E., Haux, L. M., Zeidler, H., & Engelmann, J. M. (2019). Human children but not chimpanzees make irrational decisions driven by social comparison. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: B, Biological Sciences, 286:20182228. doi:10.1098/rspb.2018.2228


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

By Jan Engelmann and Tania Jenkins