Welcome to The Social Origins Lab

We study human cognition and behavior from an evolutionary perspective. We are particularly interested in the evolutionary and developmental roots of human sociality. Most of what makes humans such unusual primates has to do, in one way or another, with our especially social and cultural lifestyles, which result in cooperative forms of thinking and acting. We address questions about the evolution and development of socio-cognitive skills by comparing humans to other animals (mostly chimpanzees, our closest living relatives) and by studying how children develop in different societies.

The Social Origins Lab values diversity both in the workplace and in our research. We are committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment as well as enriching learning opportunities to all lab members, including those from marginalized and historically underrepresented backgrounds. We encourage applications from students who identify as members of marginalized or historically underrepresented backgrounds. Furthermore, we are actively engaging with programs (such as the Research Experience Pathways program, the Cal NERDS program, and the Learning-Aligned Employment Program) that provide paid opportunities to such students. In our research, we prioritize recruiting participants that represent the Bay Area community for US samples. We conduct cross-cultural research with longstanding collaborators in China and Kenya to study social and cognitive development in different populations.

Latest News

Jan discusses our work on NPR's On Point with Meghna Chakrabarti!


University of California, Berkeley
2121 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94704, USA

Recent Publications

Engelmann, J.M., Völter, C.J., Goddu, M., Call, J., Rakoczy, H. & Herrmann, E. (2023). Chimpanzees prepare for alternative possible outcomes. Biology Letters

Confer, J., Schleihauf, H., Engelmann, J.M. (2023). Children and adults' intuitions of what people can believe. Child Development.