Selected Publications


Hepach, R., Benziad, L., & Tomasello, M. (2020). Chimpanzees help others with what they want; children help them with what they need (advance online). Developmental Science, 23:e12922. [pdf]

Kanngiesser, P., Rossano, F., & Tomasello, M. (2020). Children, but not great apes, respect ownership. Developmental Science, [pdf]

Tomasello, M. (2020). The role of roles in uniquely human cognition and sociality. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 50, 2-19.. [pdf]

Wolf, W. & Tomasello, M. (2020). Watching a video together creates social closeness.  Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 189, 1-12 (104712). [pdf]

Gopnik, A., Frankenheus, W., & Tomasello, M., Eds. (2020). Special Issue of  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society on Life history and learning: How childhood, caregiving and old age shape cognition and culture in humans and other animals. [link]

Grueneisen, S. & Tomasello, M. (2020). The development of coordination via joint expectations for shared benefits. Developmental Psychology, 56, 1149-56[pdf]

Koymen, B., Jurkat, S., & Tomasello, M. (2020). Preschoolers refer to direct and indirect evidence in their collaborative reasoning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 193, 104806. [pdf]

Koymen, B., O’Madagain, C., Domberg, A., & Tomasello, M. (2020).  Young children’s ability to produce valid and relevant counter-arguments. Child Development, 91, 685-93. [pdf]

Schmelz, M. , Grüneisen, S. ., & Tomasello, M. (2020). The psychological mechanisms underlying reciprocal prosociality in chimpanzees. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 134, 149–157. [pdf]

Tomasello, M. (2020). The moral psychology of obligationTarget article in Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43, e56: 1–58. [pdf]

Wolf, W. & Tomasello, M. (2020). Human children, but not great apes become socially closer by sharing an experience in common ground. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 199, 104930. [pdf]


Bohn, M., Kachel, G., & Tomasello, M. (2019). Young children spontaneously recreate core properties of language in a new modality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi/10.1073/pnas.1904871116. [pdf]

Engelmann, J., & Tomasello, M. (2019).  Children’s sense of fairness as equal respect. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 23, 454 – 463. [pdf]

Kachel, U., Svetlova, M., & Tomasello, M. (2019). Three- and 5-year-old children’s understanding of how to dissolve a joint commitment. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 184, 34-47. [pdf]

Kachel, U., & Tomasello, M. (2019). 3- and 5-year-old children’s adherence to explicit and implicit joint commitments. Developmental Psychology, 55, 80-88. [pdf]

Kanngeisser, P., Rossano, F., Zeidler, H., Haun, D., & Tomasello, M. (2019). Children’s respect for ownership across diverse societies. Developmental Psychology, 55, 2286-2298. [pdf]

Rapp, D. J., Engelmann, J. M., Herrmann, E., & Tomasello, M. (2019). Young children´s reputational strategies in a peer group context. Developmental Psychology, 55, 329-36. [pdf]



Engelmann, J., Rapp, D., Herrmann, E., & Tomasello, M. (2018). Concern for group reputation increases prosociality in young children. Psychological Science, 29, 181-90. [pdf]

Grocke, P., Rossano, F., & Tomasello, M. (2018). Young children are more willing to accept group decisions in which they have had a voice. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 166, 67-78. [pdf]

Halina, M., Liebal, K., & Tomasello, M. (2018). The goal of ape pointing. PLOS One, 13: e0195182.[pdf]

Kachel, U., Svetlova, M., & Tomasello, M. (2018). Three-year-olds’ reactions to a partner’s failure to perform her role in a joint commitment. Child Development. [pdf]

Koymen, B., & Tomasello, M. (2018). Children’s meta-talk in their collaborative decision-making with peers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 166, 549-566. [pdf]

Mamman, M., Koymen, B., & Tomasello, M. (2018). The reasons young children give to peers when explaining their judgments of moral and conventional rules. Developmental Psychology, 54, 254-262. [pdf]

Siposova, B., Tomasello, M., & Carpenter, M., (2018). Communicative eye contact signals a commitment to cooperate for young children. Cognition, 179, 192-201. [pdf]

Tomasello, M. (2018). How children come to understand false beliefs: A shared intentionality account. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi/10.1073/pnas.1804761115. [pdf]

Tomasello, M. (2018). The normative turn in early moral development. Special issue of Human Development, 61, 248–263. [pdf]

Vaish, A., Hepach, R., & Tomasello, M. (2018). The specificity of reciprocity: Young children reciprocate more generously to those who intentionally benefit them. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 167, 336-53. [pdf]


Grüneisen, S. & Tomasello, M. (2017). Children coordinate in a recurrent conflict of interest by taking turns and along dominance asymmetries. Developmental Psychology, 53, 265-73. [pdf]

Engelmann, J., Clift, J., Herrmann, E., & Tomasello, M. (2017). Social disappointment explains chimpanzees’ behavior in the inequity aversion task Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, 284, DOI: 10.1098. [pdf]

Schmelz, M. , Grueneisen, S. ., Kabalak, A., Jost, J., & Tomasello, M. (2017). Chimpanzees return favors at a personal cost. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114, 7462-7467. [pdf]

Hardecker, S., Schmidt, M. F. H., & Tomasello, M. (2017). Children’s developing understanding of the conventionality of rules. Journal of Cognition and Development, 18(2), 163-188. [pdf]

Hardecker, S. & Tomasello, M. (2017). From imitation to implementation: How two- and three-year-old children learn to enforce social norms. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 35(2), 237–248. [pdf]

Hepach, R., Vaish, A., & Tomasello, M. (2017). The fulfilment of others’ needs elevates children’s body posture. Developmental Psychology, 53, 100-113. [pdf]

Hepach, R., Lambert, S., Haberl, K., & Tomasello, M. (2017). Toddlers help anonymously. Infancy, 22, 130-142. [pdf]

Kanngiesser, P., Koymen, B., & Tomasello, M. (2017). Young children mostly keep, and expect others to keep, their promises. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 159, 140-58. [pdf]

Rapp, D. J., Engelmann, J. M., Herrmann, E., & Tomasello, M. (2017). The impact of choice on young children’s prosocial motivation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 158, 112-121. [pdf]

Tomasello, M., & Gonzalez-Cabrera, I. (2017). The role of ontogeny in the evolution of human cooperation. Human Nature, 1-15. [pdf]

Ulber, J., Hamaan, K., & Tomasello, M. (2017). Young children, but not chimpanzees, are averse to disadvantageous and advantageous inequities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,155, 48-66. [pdf]


Engelmann, J. M., Herrmann, E., Rapp, D., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Young children (sometimes) do the right thing even when their peers do not. Cognitive Development, 39, 86-92.[pdf]

Krupenye, C., Kano, F., Call, J., Hirata, S., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Great apes anticipate that other individuals will act according to false beliefs. Science., 354, 110-114. [pdf]

Melis, A., Grocke, P., Kalbitz, J., & Tomasello, M. (2016). One for you, one for me: Humans’ unique turn-taking skills. Psychological Science, 27, 987-996. [pdf]

Schmidt, M., Butler, L., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Young children see a single action and infer a social norm. Psychological Science, 27, 1360-1370. [pdf]

Schmidt, M. F. H., Hardecker, S., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Preschoolers understand the normativity of cooperatively structured competition. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 143, 34-47. [pdf]

Schmidt, M. F. H., Rakoczy, H., Mietzsch, T., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Young children understand the role of agreement in establishing arbitrary norms – but unanimity is key. Child Development, 87(2), 612-626. [pdf]

Schmidt, M. F. H., Svetlova, M., Johe, J., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Children’s developing understanding of legitimate reasons for allocating resources unequally. Cognitive Development, 37, 42-52. [pdf]

Tomasello, M. (2016). The ontogeny of cultural learning. Current Opinion in Psychology,8, 1-4. [pdf]

Vaish, A., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2016). The early emergence of guilt-motivated prosocial behavior. Child Development, 87, 1772-1782. [pdf]

Vaish, A., Herrmann, E., Markmann, C., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Preschoolers value those who sanction non-cooperators. Cognition, 153, 43-51. [pdf]

Vogelsang, M., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Giving is nicer than taking: Preschoolers reciprocate based on the social intentions of the distributor. PLoS One, 11(1): e0147539. [pdf]

Zeidler, H., Herrmann, E., Haun, D. B. M., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Taking turns or not? Children’s approach to limited resource problems in three different cultures. Child Development, 87(3), 677-688. [pdf]


Engelmann, J. M., Herrmann, E., & Tomasello, M. (2015). Chimpanzees trust conspecifics to engage in low-cost reciprocity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1801): 20142803. [pdf]

Grüneisen, S., Wyman, E., & Tomasello, M. (2015). Children use second-order false-belief reasoning for peer coordination. Child Development, 86, 287-93. [pdf]

Grüneisen, S., Wyman, E., & Tomasello, M. (2015). Children use salience to solve coordination problems. Developmental Science, 18, 495-501. [pdf]

Herrmann , E., Misch, A., & Tomasello, M. (2015). Uniquely human self-control begins at school age. Developmental Science, 18, 979-993. [pdf]

Karg, K., Schmelz, M., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2015). The goggles experiment: Can chimpanzees use self-experience to infer what a competitor can see? Animal Behaviour, 105, 211-221. [pdf]

Riedl, K., Jensen, K., Call, J., Tomasello, M. (2015). Restorative justice in children. Current Biology, 25, 1-5. [pdf]

Rossano, F., Fiedler, L., & Tomasello, M. (2015). Preschoolers’ understanding of the role of communication and cooperation in establishing property rights. Developmental Psychology, 51, 176-184. [pdf]

Schaefer, M., Haun, D., & Tomasello, M. (2015). Fair is not fair everywhere. Psychological Science, 26, 1252-1260. [pdf]

Ulber, J., Hamann, K., & Tomasello, M. (2015). How 18- and 24-month-old peers divide resources among themselves. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 140, 228-244. [pdf]


Tomasello, M. (2014). The ultra-social animal. Invited Horizon article for European Journal of Social Psychology, 44, 187-194. [pdf]

Buttelmann, D., Over, H., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2014). Eighteen-month-olds understand false beliefs in an unexpected-contents task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 119, 120-126. [pdf]

Hamann, K., Bender, J., & Tomasello, M. (2014). Meritocratic sharing is based on collaboration in 3-year-olds. Developmental Psychology, 50(1), 121-128. [pdf]

Moll, H., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2014). Two- and three-year-olds know what others have and have not heard. Journal of Cognition and Development, 15(1), 12-21. [pdf]

van der Goot, M., & Tomasello, M., & Liszkowski, U. (2014). Differences in the nonverbal requests of great apes and human infants. Child Development, 85(2), 444-455. [pdf]

Wobber, V., Herrmann, E., Hare, B., Wrangham, R., & Tomasello, M. (2014). Differences in the early cognitive development of children and great apes. Developmental Psychobiology, 56(3), 547-573. [pdf]


Engelmann, J. M., Over, H., Herrmann, E., &  Tomasello, M. (2013). Young children care more about their reputation with ingroup members and possible reciprocators. Developmental Science, 16(6), 552-558. [pdf]

Halina, M., Rossano, F., & Tomasello, M. (2013). The ontogenetic ritualization of bonobo gestures. Animal Cognition, 16, 653-666. [pdf]

Hepach, R., Vaish, A., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Young children sympathize less in response to unjustified emotional distress. Developmental Psychology, 49(6), 1132-1138. [pdf]

Moll, H., Meltzoff, A., Merzsch, K.,  & Tomasello, M. (2013). Taking versus confronting perspectives in preschool children. Developmental Psychology, 49(4), 646-654. [pdf]

Schmidt, M. F.H., Rakoczy, H., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Young children understand and defend the entitlements of others. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116(4), 930-944. [pdf]

Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2013). The emergence of contingent reciprocity in young children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116(2), 338-350. [pdf]

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

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]

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]

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. (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]