Dr. Felix Warneken studies the origins of human social behavior, with a focus on the development and evolution of cooperation and morality. He conducts developmental and cross-cultural studies with children, as well as comparative studies with nonhuman apes. He completed his Ph.D. and postdoctoral training at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Before coming to Michigan, he was an assistant and later associate professor of psychology at Harvard University.

He has received several awards, including an NSF CAREER Award, the Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science, and the Boyd McCandless Award by the American Psychological Association.

Felix Warneken

Principal Investigator, warneken@umich.edu



Sebastian Grüneisen : Post Doctoral Researcher

Sebastian Grüneisen

Post Doctoral Researcher


Personal Website

Sebastian studied psychology at Northumbria University and the University of St Andrews in the UK, and completed his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. His research investigates the developmental and evolutionary origins of human cooperation. To this end, he adapts game theory paradigms for experimental studies with children and nonhuman great apes, particularly chimpanzees. Using this approach, he aims at uncovering the cognitive and motivational components underlying cooperative decision-making in humans and our closest evolutionary relatives.

Nicole Wen : Post Doctoral Researcher

Nicole Wen

Post Doctoral Researcher


Personal website

Nicole received her B.S. in Psychology, B.A. in Plan II Honors, and then completed her Ph.D. in Cognitive and Developmental Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Nicole is interested in the development of social cognition and is particularly interested in the role of cultural conventions in children’s prosocial behaviors and cooperation with in- and out-group members. Nicole’s dissertation research explored how children identify and acquire rituals to affiliate with social groups and how evaluations of imitation in social learning differ across the lifespan and cultures, in the U.S. and Vanuatu.

Young-eun Lee : Graduate Student

Young-eun Lee

Graduate Student


Personal Website

Young-eun is a PhD student in Developmental Psychology at the University of Michigan. She got her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Yonsei University, South Korea. Prior to joining UM, she received her master’s degrees in Psychology from Yonsei University and Harvard University. Young-eun studies the development of altruistic punishment in children. She is particularly interested in children’s enforcement of social norms (e.g., fairness norms) and its underlying mechanisms.

Sarah Probst : Graduate Student

Sarah Probst

Graduate Student


Personal website

Sarah is a first year PhD student at the University of Michigan. She received her B.S. in Psychology with Honors from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 and then worked as project coordinator of the Social Development Lab at the University at Buffalo. Here at UM she is interested in studying the cognitive mechanisms influencing prosocial behavior in infants and toddlers.

Caiqin Zhou : Lab Manager

Caiqin Zhou

Lab Manager


Caiqin received her BA in Psychology and Economics from Wellesley College. Prior to joining U of M, she had been an undergraduate RA in the Computation and Cognitive Development Lab at Yale University. She is broadly interested in how children learn about both the self and the world in different social contexts.

Mihir Pyakuryal : Lab Manager

Mihir Pyakuryal

Lab Manager


Mihir is the lab manager for the Social Minds Lab. He received his bachelor’s degrees in psychology from Dickinson College and has studied stigma and its effects on smoking behavior. He was also a summer research assistant for the Social Minds Lab in 2018, where he studied development of cooperation in children. Mihir is interested in social cognition, cooperation and metacognition in primates.


Undergraduate Research Assistants