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

Tomasello, M, and Gonzalez-Cabrera, I. "The Role of Ontogeny in the Evolution of Human Cooperation. (Accepted)" Human nature (Hawthorne, N.Y.) 28.3 (September 2017): 274-288. Full Text Open Access Copy

Kano, F, Krupenye, C, Hirata, S, Call, J, and Tomasello, M. "Submentalizing Cannot Explain Belief-Based Action Anticipation in Apes. (Accepted)" Trends in cognitive sciences 21.9 (September 2017): 633-634. (Letter) Full Text Open Access Copy

Haux, L, Engelmann, JM, Herrmann, E, and Tomasello, M. "Do young children preferentially trust gossip or firsthand observation in choosing a collaborative partner?." Social Development 26.3 (August 2017): 466-474. Full Text Open Access Copy

Hepach, R, Vaish, A, and Tomasello, M. "Children's Intrinsic Motivation to Provide Help Themselves After Accidentally Harming Others." Child development 88.4 (July 2017): 1251-1264. Full Text Open Access Copy

Schmelz, M, Grueneisen, S, Kabalak, A, Jost, J, and Tomasello, M. "Chimpanzees return favors at a personal cost." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114.28 (July 2017): 7462-7467. Full Text Open Access Copy

Kanngiesser, P, Köymen, B, and Tomasello, M. "Young children mostly keep, and expect others to keep, their promises." Journal of experimental child psychology 159 (July 2017): 140-158. Full Text Open Access Copy

Hardecker, S, and Tomasello, M. "From imitation to implementation: How two- and three-year-old children learn to enforce social norms." British Journal of Developmental Psychology 35.2 (June 2017): 237-248. Full Text Open Access Copy

Rapp, DJ, Engelmann, JM, Herrmann, E, and Tomasello, M. "The impact of choice on young children’s prosocial motivation." Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 158 (June 2017): 112-121. Full Text Open Access Copy

Sánchez-Amaro, A, Duguid, S, Call, J, and Tomasello, M. "Chimpanzees, bonobos and children successfully coordinate in conflict situations." Proceedings. Biological sciences 284.1856 (June 2017). Full Text 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