Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Bruce Rawlings

Post Doctoral ResearcherPh.D., Durham University

Postdoctoral Researcher, EVO Learn Lab
Bruce Rawlings



My research falls within the field of cultural evolution. I aim to understand how new cultures emerge and establish, and what makes human culture so different from all other animal species. 

To achieve this, I have take developmental, cross-cultural and comparative approaches to understanding how individual and group differences predict the propensity to engage in high fidelity copying (imitation) and innovation (particularly tool innovation).

I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the EVOLearn lab (PI Dr. Cristine Legare). Here, my research has two main strands. First, I am studying cross-cultural continuity and variation in children's expression of overimitation (the act of copying functionally irrelevant actions) and innovation. Second, I take a comparative (children, chimpanzees) approach to understanding the cognitive underpinnings of cumulative culture. 

My PhD, at Durham University with Dr. Rachel Kendal, Prof. Emma Flynn and Dr. Dan Franks focussed on individual differences in the use of social learning and innovation, in children and chimpanzees. Specifically, I ran a series of experiments investigating whether personality, positions in social networks, age and sex predict innovation and imitation in both species.

I have also conducted field work in Mexico (children), where I investigated social learning and innovation in children, and Brazil (capuchins) and Zambia (chimpanzees) documenting the social transmission of experimentally seeded and natural foraging behaviours throughout populations.

See more information on my website here:

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