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Photo: Nivedita Mani

Humans and nonhuman primates reveal both similarities as well as striking differences in their communicative abilities. In their usage of signals to communicate with others, non-human primates and humans share similar patterns of emotion expression in different domains, including face, voice, and gesture. Human communication, however, is set apart by the language faculty and shared intentionality. Humans have evolved the ability to use speech, as well as signed and written languages. Furthermore, humans intentionally provide information to others and the emergence of intentional communication can be traced back to infants’ use of pointing gestures. In terms of the processing of signals, the commonalities between nonhuman primates and humans are more pronounced, and of specific interest here are the inferential processes supporting the attribution of meaning and choice of appropriate responses

This cluster addresses the question in which way social attributes such as group membership or status, or assumptions about another’s mental states influence the processing of and responses to communicative signals. Vice versa, we are interested how how social signals are used to make inferences about group membership, status, or mental state. Exemplary research questions in this cluster are:

  • How do social interactions influence language acquisition and the development of communicative competence more broadly?
  • What are the mechanisms underpinning social concept formation?
  • How does social knowledge affect social signaling and alliance formation in groups?

Cluster representatives in the Steering Committee

Dr. Claudia Fichtel

Dr. Claudia Fichtel Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology, DPZ +49 551 3851-467 Contact

Prof. Dr. Nivedita Mani

Prof. Dr. Nivedita Mani Psychology of Language, University of Göttingen +49 551 39-10899 Contact