Michael Tomasello

James F. Bonk Professor

External address: 
247 Soc Psych Bldg, Box 90086, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 660-8752


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.

Degrees & Credentials

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

  • B.A., Duke University 1972

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

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)

Schmidt, MFH, Gonzalez-Cabrera, I, and Tomasello, M. "Children's developing metaethical judgments. (Accepted)" Journal of experimental child psychology 164 (December 2017): 163-177. Full Text Open Access Copy

Hepach, R, Vaish, A, Müller, K, and Tomasello, M. "The relation between young children's physiological arousal and their motivation to help others." Neuropsychologia (October 10, 2017). Full Text

Domberg, A, Köymen, B, and Tomasello, M. "Children's reasoning with peers in cooperative and competitive contexts." The British journal of developmental psychology (September 21, 2017). Full Text

Grocke, P, Rossano, F, and Tomasello, M. "Young children are more willing to accept group decisions in which they have had a voice." Journal of experimental child psychology 166 (September 4, 2017): 67-78. Full Text

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

Hepach, R, Kante, N, and Tomasello, M. "Toddlers Help a Peer." Child development 88.5 (September 2017): 1642-1652. Full Text Open Access Copy

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

Grueneisen, S, Duguid, S, Saur, H, and Tomasello, M. "Children, chimpanzees, and bonobos adjust the visibility of their actions for cooperators and competitors." Scientific Reports 7.1 (August 17, 2017): 8504-. Full Text Open Access Copy

Engelmann, JM, Clift, JB, Herrmann, E, and Tomasello, M. "Social disappointment explains chimpanzees' behaviour in the inequity aversion task." Proceedings. Biological sciences 284.1861 (August 2017). Full Text

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


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.