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Research Infrastructure

Human Studies

The research content of our studies focuses on developmental psychological and cultural comparison.

These studies describe and investigate the early development of children and provide information about which cognitive and symbolic developmental processes are important for the emergence of culture.

Human cultural and mental development is closely interlinked and exerts reciprocal influences. We aim to investigate and compare these processes and relationships more closely by conducting studies on cognition and behaviour in different cultures that are characterised by different social and physical environments. 

Studies are conducted at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, at kindergartens after-school care centres and schools in the city of Leipzig. More information about how studies are performed in Leipzig is available here:

Research sites in Leipzig

Studies with Great Apes

To find out which cognitive abilities and behaviours are uniquely human, comparison with other animals, especially our closest relatives, the great apes, is essential. Although not as pronounced as in humans, there is clear behavioural variation between different groups in other primate species as well.

We know that the extent of these variations in social and problem-solving behaviour depends on the one hand strongly on the composition of the respective population, but on the other hand is also influenced by further factors that are so far only little known. Systematic and, above all, long-term observations of different populations are necessary here in order to formulate valid statements about similarities and differences between humans and other primates. In addition to classical behavioural studies, new methods such as eye movement measurement, thermography, touch screen and virtual reality are also used.

Complementing our regular studies at the Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Centre, we maintain research collaborations with African chimpanzee sanctuaries and are in the process of establishing a European zoo network with the aim of long-term collaborative behavioural research on great apes.