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Maleen Thiele

Senior Scientist | Group Leader

Abteilung für Vergleichende Kulturpsychologie
Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

Telefon: +49 (0) 341 3550 403
E-Mail: maleen_thiele@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Research Interests

I am a developmental psychologist and infancy researcher interested in the psychological foundations of early social learning. In my doctoral research, I have studied how infants in the first postnatal year attend to social interactions between third parties, how their attentional orienting is influenced by their intrinsic motivations, and what factors within observed social interactions help them learn about their cultural environment.

In my current research projects, we want to find out how infants' learning from others in observed social settings compares to their learning from direct interaction partners, and how social context influences object memory across great ape species.

A methodological objective of my research is to refine eye-tracking technology for its application with non-human primates and in remote field settings. 

Curriculum Vitae

Since 11/2023

Senior Scientist | Group Leader
Minerva Fast Track Group "Facets of Early Social Learning"  

11/2021 - 11/2023

Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology
Max Planck Insitute of Evolutionary Anthropology 

06/2020 - 11/2021

Phd Student
Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology
Max Planck Insitute of Evolutionary Anthropology 

08/2018 - 12/2018

Visiting Researcher
Uppsala Child and Baby Lab
Uppsala University

12/2016 - 05/2020

PhD Student | Research Associate 
Department of Early Child Development and Culture
Leipzig University

12/2016 - 11/2021

Dr. rer. nat. Psychology
Leipzig University | Thesis title: "The social attentional foundations of infants' learning from third-party social interactions"

10/2014 - 10/2016

M. Sc. Psychology
Leipzig University | Thesis title: “The sense of own and others’ deservingness in children and chimpanzees”

10/2010 - 10/2013

B. Sc. Psychology
Leipzig University | Thesis title: “The effect of age on emotional memory: investigating the role of psychological arousal”

  • German (native speaker)
  • English (fluent)
  • French (basic) 

Research Awards & Funding

11/2023 - 11/2026

Minerva Fast Track Fellowship
Max Planck Society


Outstanding Dissertation Award
International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS)

08/2018 - 12/2018

Scholarship for Guest Researchers
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)


Steffan, A., Zimmer, L., Arias-Trejo, N., Bohn, M., Ben, R. D., Flores-Coronado, M. A., Franchin, L., Garbisch, I., Grosse Wiesmann, C., Hamlin, J. K., Havron, N., Hay, J. F., Hermansen, T. K., Jakobsen, K. V., Kalinke, S., Ko, E.-S., Kulke, L., Mayor, J., Meristo, M., Moreau, D., Mun, S., Prein, J. C., Rakoczy, H., Rothmaler, K., Oliveira, D. S., Simpson, E. A., Smith, E. S., Strid, K., Tebbe, A.-L., Thiele, M., Yuen, F., & Schuwerk, T. (2024). Validation of an open source, remote web-based eye-tracking method (WebGazer) for research in early childhood. Infancy, 29(1), 31-55.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Stengelin, R., Bohn, M., Sánchez Amaro, A., Haun, D. B. M., Thiele, M., Daum, M. M., Felsche, E., Fong, F. T. K., Gampe, A., Giner Torréns, M., Grueneisen, S., Hardecker, D. J. K., Horn, L., Neldner, K., Pope-Caldwell, S. M., & Schuhmacher, N. (2023). Responsible research is also concerned with generalizability: Recognizing efforts to reflect upon and increase generalizability in hiring and promotion decisions in psychology. PsyArXiv.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Thiele, M., Kalinke, S., Michel, C., & Haun, D. B. M. (2023). Direct and observed joint attention modulate 9-month-old infants’ object encoding. Open Mind, 7, 917-946.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Farris, K., Kelsey, C. M., Krol, K. M., Thiele, K. M., Hepach, R., Haun, D. B. M., & Grossmann, T. (2022). Processing third-party social interactions in the human infant brain. Infant Behavior and Development, 68: 101727.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Thiele, M., Hepach, R., Michel, C., & Haun, D. B. M. (2021). Infants’ preference for social interactions increases from 7 to 13 months of age. Child Development, 92(6), 2577-2594.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Legg, E. W., Farrar, B., Lazić, A., Thiele, M., Kampis, D., Mani, N., Sesar, K., Klapwijk, E., Schlingloff, L., Reindl, E., Li, K., Birovljević, G., Attwood, M., Tatone, D., Yuniarto, L. S., & Ostojic, L. (2021). Assessing the reporting and interpretation of non-significant results in the study of cognitive development: A systematic review.
DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Astor, K., Thiele, M., & Gredebäck, G. (2021). Gaze following emergence relies on both perceptual cues and social awareness. Cognitive Development, 60: 101121.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Thiele, M., Hepach, R., Michel, C., & Haun, D. B. M. (2021). Observing others’ joint attention increases 9-month-old infants’ object encoding. Developmental Psychology, 57(6), 837-850.
DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Thiele, K. M. (2021). The social attentional foundations of infant's learning from third-party social interactions. PhD Thesis, Universität Leipzig, Leipzig.
Open Access    BibTeX   Endnote   

Thiele, M., Hepach, R., Michel, C., Gredebäck, G., & Haun, D. B. M. (2021). Social interaction targets enhance 13-month-old infants' associative learning. Infancy, 26(3), 409-422.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote