Michael Tomasello

James F. Bonk Professor

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Georgia at Athens 1980

  • B.A., Duke University 1972


Major research interests in processes of social cognition, social learning, cooperation, and communication from developmental, comparative, and cultural perspectives. Current theoretical focus on processes of shared intentionality. Empirical research mainly with human children from 1 to 4 years of age and great apes.


Children, great apes, social cognition, communication, cooperation, social learning

Ulber, J, Hamann, K, and Tomasello, M. "Young children, but not chimpanzees, are averse to disadvantageous and advantageous inequities." Journal of experimental child psychology 155 (March 2017): 48-66. Full Text Open Access Copy

Hepach, R, Vaish, A, and Tomasello, M. "The fulfillment of others' needs elevates children's body posture." Developmental psychology 53.1 (January 2017): 100-113. Full Text Open Access Copy

Hepach, R, Kante, N, and Tomasello, M. "Toddlers Help a Peer." Child development (December 7, 2016). Full Text Open Access Copy

Hardecker, S, Schmidt, MFH, and Tomasello, M. "Children’s Developing Understanding of the Conventionality of Rules." Journal of Cognition and Development (November 2, 2016): 1-26. Full Text Open Access Copy

Vaish, A, Carpenter, M, and Tomasello, M. "The Early Emergence of Guilt-Motivated Prosocial Behavior." Child development 87.6 (November 2016): 1772-1782. Full Text Open Access Copy

Hepach, R, Vaish, A, Grossmann, T, and Tomasello, M. "Young Children Want to See Others Get the Help They Need." Child development 87.6 (November 2016): 1703-1714. Full Text Open Access Copy

Schmidt, MFH, and Tomasello, M. "How chimpanzees cooperate: If dominance is artificially constrained." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113.44 (November 2016): E6728-E6729. (Letter) Full Text Open Access Copy

Schmidt, MFH, Butler, LP, Heinz, J, and Tomasello, M. "Young Children See a Single Action and Infer a Social Norm." Psychological Science 27.10 (October 2016): 1360-1370. Full Text Open Access Copy

Krupenye, C, Kano, F, Hirata, S, Call, J, and Tomasello, M. "Great apes anticipate that other individuals will act according to false beliefs." Science (New York, N.Y.) 354.6308 (October 2016): 110-114. Open Access Copy


Tomasello, M. A Natural History of Human Morality. January 4, 2016.

Tomasello, M. A Natural History of Human Thinking. Harvard University Press, February 2014. (Edited Book)

Wobber, V, Herrmann, E, Hare, B, Wrangham, R, and Tomasello, M. "Species differences in the rate of cognitive ontogeny among humans, chimpanzees, and bonobos." 2011.

Cross-Cultural Patterns in the Ontogeny of Cooperation awarded by Max Planck Institute (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2021

The Ontogeny of Cooperation awarded by Max Planck Institute (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2017