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Origins of Human Cooperation

Development and evolution of social cognition, communication and cooperation
A young male chimpanzee enjoys the sun while sitting on a tree trunk. Photo: Charlotte Defolie
Prof. Michael Tomasello investigates the development of cognitive abilities in humans and monkeys. Photo: Jacobs Foundation
Prof. Michael Tomasello investigates the development of cognitive abilities in humans and monkeys. Photo: Jacobs Foundation
[Translate to English:] Schimpansen. Foto: MPI EVA Leipzig
[Translate to English:] Schimpansen. Foto: MPI EVA Leipzig

The Leibniz ScienceCampus Primate Cognition invites to a public lecture about the "Origins of Human Cooperation" on Wednesday, May 30th at 6 p.m. in the Adam-von-Trott-Saal at the Alte Mensa, Wilhelmsplatz 3 in Göttingen. The lecture will be held in English and admission is free.

What makes humans unique? Scientists have been asking this question for centuries. Michael Tomasello investigates cooperative behaviour and communication in children and great apes. Using comparative approaches he studies differences in the developmental trajectories of the social and cognitive abilities of young children and chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans. By comparing children with our closest relatives, the great apes, he wants to identify the abilities that allow children to develop into cooperative and communicative adults.


Michael Tomasello is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, USA and emeritus director of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. He is one of the most influential and most frequently cited scientists in comparative behavioural biology and psychology. His books have been translated to German and published by the Suhrkamp Verlag. For his research, he received many awards as well as a honorary doctor’s degree from the University of Leipzig.