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Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology  



I did my undergraduate degree in psychology at Plymouth University. From there, I did a master's degree in cognitive neuroscience at the University of York. I then took several research assistant projects examining chimpanzee and capuchin monkey social learning and social dynamics, including doing research in Piaui, Brazil (capuchins) as well as Edinbugh Zoo and Chimfunshi Wildlife Orhphanage, Zambia (chimpanzees). 

I then did a PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology at Durham University where I studied social learning and innovation in children and chimpanzees (housed in Texas). After my PhD, I did a three year postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin studying cross-cultural variation in imitation and innovation in children from all over the world, as well as comparatively, with chimpanzees.


My research uses developmental, cross-cultural, and comparative methods to study cognition, with a particular focus on the psychology of cultural evolution. I am currently particularly interested in studying the development of tool innovation from cognitive, social, and comparative perspectives. I also study the factors influencing the development of imitation and overimitation in children.

I am interested in and happy to supervise PhD students in any of the following topics, or related ones (please get in touch if you’d like to discuss or chat):

  • The development of tool innovation, including across cultures
  • The development of creativity
  • The development of imitation and overimitation
  • Individual and/or cognitive differences in imitation and innovation in children
  • Comparative (particularly children and chimpanzees) perspectives on innovation

Research interests

  • Innovation (particularly tool innovation) and creativity
  • Imitation
  • Cultural evolution
  • Developmental research
  • Cross-cultural research
  • Comparative research (particularly chimpanzees)

Research groups


Chapter in book

  • Rawlings, B, Dutra, N, Turner, C & Flynn, E.G (2020). Overimitation across development: the influence of individual and contextual factors. In Conducting Research in Developmental Psychology A Topical Guide for Research Methods Utilized Across the Lifespan. Jones, N.A., Platt, M. Mize, K.D. & Hardin, J Routledge.

Journal Article