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Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology

Deutscher Platz 6
D-04103 Leipzig

link website  Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology (

Phone +49 341 3550 400
Fax +49 341 3550 444
Email mail  tomas at

Description of Research Interests:

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

For your reading enjoyment:

Tomasello, M. (in press). A Natural History of Human Thinking. Harvard University Press.

Tomasello, M. (2009). Why We Cooperate. MIT Press

Tomasello, M. (2008). Origins of Human Communication. MIT Press.

Tomasello, M. (2003). Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press.

Tomasello, M. (1999). The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press.

Tomasello, M. & Call, J. (1997). Primate Cognition. Oxford University Press.


Some recent publications (downloadable):

Bullinger, A., Melis. A., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Bonobos, chimpanzees, and marmosets prefer to feed alone.  Animal Behavior, 85, 51-60. [pdf]

Kaminski, J., Pitsch, A., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Dogs steal in the dark. Animal Cognition, 16, 385-394. [pdf]

Liebal, K. , Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Young children’s understanding of cultural common ground. British J. of Developmental Psychology, 31, 88–96. [pdf]

Melis, A., Altricher, K., Schneider, A, Tomasello, M. (2013).  Allocation of resources to collaborators and free-riders by 3-year-olds. J. of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 364-370. [pdf]

Melis, A. & Tomasello, M. (2013). Chimpanzees’ strategic helping in a collaborative task. Biology Letters, 9, 20130009. [pdf]

Schmelz, M., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Chimpanzees predict that a competitor’s preference will match their own. Biology Letters. 9, 1-5. [pdf]

Tomasello, M.  & Vaish, A. (2013). Origins of human cooperation and morality.  Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 231–55. [pdf]

Engelmann, J., Herrmann, E., & Tomasello, M. (2012). Five-year olds, but not chimpanzees, attempt to manage their reputations. PLoS ONE (10), e48433.doi:10.1371. [pdf]

Hamann, K., Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2012). Children's developing commitments to joint goals. Child Development, 83, 137-145. [pdf]

Haun, D., Rekers, Y., & Tomasello, M. (2012). Majority-Biased Transmission in Chimpanzees and Human Children, but Not Orangutans. Current Biology, 22, 727-731. [pdf]

Hepach, R., Vaish, A., & Tomasello, M. (2012). Young children are intrinsically motivated to see others helped. Psychological Science, 23, 967-72. [pdf]

Matthews, D., Behne, T., Lieven, E., Tomasello, M. (2012). Origins of the human pointing gesture: A training study.  Developmental Science, 15,  817-29. [pdf]

Moll, H. & Tomasello, M. (2012). Three-year-olds understand appearance and reality - Just not about the same object at the same time. Developmental Psychology, 48, 1124-1132. [pdf]

Riedl, K., Jensen, K., Call, J., Tomasello, M. (2012). No third-party punishment in chimpanzees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 14824-14829. [pdf]

Rossano, F., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2012). One-year-old infants follow others’ voice direction. Psychological Science, 23, 1298-1302. [pdf]

Schmidt, M. , Rakoczy, H., & Tomasello, M. (2012). Young children enforce social norms selectively depending on the violator’s group affiliation. Cognition, 124, 325-33. [pdf]

Schmidt, M., & Tomasello, M. (2012). Young children enforce social norms. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 232-236. [pdf]

Schneider, A., Melis, A., & Tomasello, M. (2012). How chimpanzees solve collective action problems. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, 279 (2012): 4946-4954. [pdf]

Tomasello, M., Melis, A., Tennie, C., & Herrmann, E. (2012). Two key steps in the evolution of human cooperation: The interdependence hypothesis. Current Anthropology, 56, 1-20. [pdf]

Bullinger, A., Wyman, E., Melis. A., & Tomasello, M. (2011) Chimpanzees coordinate in a Stag Hunt game. International Journal of Primatology, 32, 1296-1310. [pdf]

Callaghan, T., Moll, H., Rakoczy, H., Warneken, F, Liszkowski, U. Behne, T. & Tomasello, M. (2011).  Early social cognition in three cultural contexts. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 76(2), 1-142. [pdf]

Hamann, K., Warneken, F., Greenberg, J., & Tomasello, M.  (2011). Collaboration encourages equal sharing in children but not chimpanzees.  Nature, 476, 328-331. [pdf]

Melis, A., Schneider, A.  & Tomasello, M. (2011). Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) share food in the same way after individual and collaborative acquisition. Animal Behaviour, 82, 485-93. [pdf]

Rossano, F., Rakoczy, H., & Tomasello, M. (2011). Young children’s understanding of violations of property rights. Cognition, 121, 219-227. [pdf]

Schmelz, M., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2011). Chimpanzees know that others make inferences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 17284-17289. [pdf]

Schmidt, M.F.H., Rakoczy, H., Tomasello, M. (2011). Young children attribute normativity to novel actions without pedagogy or normative language. Developmental Science, 14(3), 530-539. [pdf]

Tomasello, M. & Call, J. (2011). Methodological challenges in the study of primate cognition. Science, 334, 1227-28. [pdf]

Tomasello, M. (2011). Human culture in evolutionary perspective.  In M. Gelfand (Ed.), Advances in Culture and Psychology. Oxford U. Press. [pdf]

Warneken, F., Lohse, K., Melis, A., & Tomasello, M. (2011). Young children share the spoils after collaboration. Psychological Science, 22, 267-73. [pdf]

Herrmann, E., Call, J., Hernández-Lloreda, M., Hare, B., & Tomasello, M. (2010). The structure of individual differences in the cognitive abilities of children and chimpanzees. Psychological Science, 21, 102-110. [pdf]

Moll, H., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2010). Social engagement leads 2-year-olds to overestimate others' knowledge. Infancy, 1-18 [pdf]

Tomasello, M. & Herrmann, E. (2010). Ape and human cognition: What's the difference?  Current Directions in Psychological Research, 19, 3-8. [pdf]

Bannard, C., Lieven, E., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Modeling children's early grammatical knowledge. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106,17284-17289. [pdf]

Buttelmann, D., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Eighteen-month-olds show false belief understanding in an active helping paradigm.  Cognition, 112, 337-42. [pdf]

Gräfenhain, M., Behne, T., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Young children’s understanding of joint commitments.  Developmental Psychology, 45, 1430-43. [pdf]

Liebal, K.., Behne, T., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Infants use shared experience to interpret pointing gestures. Developmental Science, 12, 264-71. [pdf]

Liszkowski, U., Schäfer, M., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Prelinguistic infants, but not chimpanzees, communicate about absent entities. Psychological Science, 20(5), 654-660. [pdf]

Vaish, A., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Sympathy through affective perspective taking and its relation to prosocial behavior in toddlers. Developmental Psychology, 45(2), 534–543. [pdf]

Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2009).  Varieties of altruism in children and chimpanzees. Trends in Cognitive Science, 13, 397-402. [pdf]

Call, J. & Tomasello, M. (2008). Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? 30 years later. Trends in Cognitive Science, 12, 187-192. [pdf]

Kaminski, J, Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2008). Chimpanzees know what others know, but not what they believe. Cognition, 109, 224-234. [pdf]

Liszkowski, U. , Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2008). Twelve-month-olds communicate helpfully and appropriately for knowledgeable and ignorant partners. Cognition, 108, 732-739. [pdf]

Rakoczy, H., Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2008). The sources of normativity: Young children’s awareness of the normative structure of games. Developmental Psychology, 44, 875-81. [pdf]

Tomasello, M. (2008). How are humans unique? New York Times Magazine, May 25, 2008. [online]

Tomasello, M. & Warneken, F. (2008). Share and share alike. Nature, 454, 1057-58. [pdf]

Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2008). Extrinsic Rewards Undermine Altruistic Tendencies in 20-Month-Olds. Developmental Psychology,  44 (6), 1785–1788. [pdf]

Tomasello, M. (2007). For human eyes only. New York Times Op-Ed, January 13, 2007. [online]

Tomasello, M., Carpenter, M., & Lizskowski, U., (2007).  A new look at infant pointing. Child Development, 78, 705-22. [pdf]

Herrmann, E., Call, J., Lloreda, M., Hare, B., & Tomasello, M. (2007). Humans have evolved specialized skills of social cognition:The cultural intelligence hypothesis.  Science, 317, 1360-1366. [pdf]

Jensen, K., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2007).  Chimpanzees are rational maximizers in an ultimatum game.  Science, 318, 107-109. [pdf]

Jensen, K., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2007). Chimpanzees are vengeful but not spiteful. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 13046-13050. [pdf]

Moll, H., & Tomasello, M. (2007). How 14- and 18- month-olds know what others have experienced.  Developmental Psychology, 43, 309-317. [pdf]

Moll, H., & Tomasello, M. (2007). Co-operation and human cognition: The Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis.  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 362, 639-648. [pdf]

Hare, B., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2006). Chimpanzees deceive a human competitor by hiding. Cognition, 101, 495-514. [pdf]

Melis, A., Hare, B., & Tomasello, M. (2006). Chimpanzees recruit the best collaborators. Science, 31 ,1297 - 1300. [pdf]

Tomasello, M. (2006). Acquiring linguistic constructions. In D. Kuhn & R. Siegler (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology. New York: Wiley. [pdf]

Warneken, F., Chen. F., & Tomasello, M. (2006). Cooperative activities in young children and chimpanzees. Child Development, 3, 640-663. [pdf]

Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2006). Altruistic helping in human infants and young chimpanzees. Science, 31, 1301 - 1303. [pdf]

Behne, T., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2005). One-year-olds comprehend the communicative intentions behind gestures in a hiding game. Developmental Science, 8, 492 - 499. [pdf]

Hare, B., & Tomasello, M. (2005). Human-like social skills in dogs? Trends in Cognitive Science, 9, 439-444. [pdf]

Tomasello, M., Carpenter, M., Call, J., Behne, T., & Moll, H. (2005). Understanding and sharing intentions: The origins of cultural cognition. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28, 675 - 691. [pdf]


updated September, 2013