Skip to main content

Departmental Colloquium: Failed studies – Past, present and future

Keith and raven
Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Keith Jensen, Senior Lecturer

Psychology, Communication & Human Neuroscience

University of Manchester


Probing the evolutionary and developmental origins of social behaviour is an ambitious enterprise.  An understanding of the cognitive and motivational processes underlying helpfulness on one hand and spitefulness on the other will give us greater insights into the evolution of human sociality. The work is as challenging as it is ambitious. Comparative and developmental psychologists use a variety of methods to infer cognition in non-linguistic animals and pre- (or unreliably) linguistic humans. These methods don’t always work. In this talk I will open my desk drawer to share studies that did not work, are not working and probably won’t work. My goal is to inspire discussion and perhaps resurrect the most interesting projects on chimpanzees as well as ravens, children and adults.