EVOLearn Lab

Department of Psychology

The University of Texas at Austin

Texas, USA

©2018 by Bruce Rawlings. Proudly created with

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Bruce Rawlings

Postdoctoral Researcher, EVOLearn Lab, UT at Austin

I am interested in understanding the evolution of human culture from developmental, comparative and cross-cultural perspectives.



Cultural evolution

My research largely falls within the field of cultural evolution. I aim to understand how new cultures emerge and establish, and what makes human culture so different from all other animal species. 

I have conducted field work in both Brazil (capuchins) and Zambia (chimpanzees) documenting the social transmission of experimentally seeded and natural foraging behaviours throughout populations.

My PhD, with Dr. Rachel Kendal, Prof. Emma Flynn (both Durham, UK) and Dr. Dan Franks (York, UK) focussed on individual differences in the use of social learning and innovation (learning strategies), in children and chimpanzees. Specifically, I ran a series of experiments investigating whether personality and/or social network properties predict learning strategy use in both species.

In April 2018, I joined the EVOLearn lab as a postdoctoral researcher (PI Dr. Cristine Legare). The overarching objective of the project is to document similarities and differences in the teaching, innovation and imitation behaviours in a wide range of populations across the world. As such, a key aim is to document the continuity and diversity in mechanisms underlying human cultural evolution.


I am also interested in understanding personality from developmental and comparative perspectives, and how personality interacts with performance on cognitive tasks in humans and nonhuman primates. 



Rawlings, B., Dutra, N., Turner, C. & Flynn, E. (in press). Overimitation across development: the influence of individual and contextual factors. In Developmental Research: A Guide for Conducting Research Across the Life Span (Editors: Jones, N.A., Platt, M., Mize, K.D., & Hardin, J).

Vale, G, Flynn, E., Kendal J., Rawlings, B, Hopper L., Schapiro S., Lambeth S. & Kendal R.L. (2017). Testing differential use of payoff-biased social learning strategies in children and chimpanzees. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284(1868): 20171751.


Rawlings, B., Flynn, E. & Kendal, R (2017). To copy or to innovate? The role of personality and social networks on children's learning strategies. Child Development Perspectives 11(1): 39-44.

Forrester, G. S., Rawlings, B., & Davila-Ross, M. (2016). An analysis of bimanual actions in natural feeding of semi-wild chimpanzees. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 159(1): 85-92.


Baddeley, A., Rawlings, B. & Hayes, A. (2014). Constrained prose recall and the assessment of long-term forgetting the case of ageing and the Crimes Test. Memory 22(8): 1052-1059.


Rawlings, B., Davila-Ross, M. & Boysen, S. (2014). Semi-wild chimpanzees open hard-shelled fruits differently across communities. Animal Cognition 17(4): 891-899.


Schel, A., Rawlings, B., Claidiere N, Wilke, C. Wathen, J. Richardson, J. Person, S., Herrelko E.S., Whiten, A. & Slocombe, K. (2012). Network Analysis of Social Changes in a Captive Chimpanzee Community Following the Successful Integration of Two Adult Groups. American Journal of Primatology 75(3): 254.



I did my undergraduate degree in Psychology (BSc) at the University of Plymouth, UK. I then did my masters degree (MSc) in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of York, UK. 


From there, I worked as a research assistant at the Universities of Durham and Portsmouth (both UK), where I conducted research on social learning in semi-wild chimpanzees and wild capuchin monkeys, respectively.


I undertook my PhD at the Durham University, in which I took a comparative approach to studying individual differences in the use of social learning and innovation in human children and chimpanzees.

In April 2018 I became a postdoctoral researcher at UT at Austin's EVOLearn Lab investigating cross-cultural differences in in social learning, innovation and teaching.



The Centre for the Coevolution of Biology and Culture (CCBC) serves as a focal point for cultural evolution and gene-culture coevolution research at Durham University. CCBC has a cross-disciplinary membership, including the fields of anthropology, archaeology, biological sciences, business, education, mathematics and psychology.

In the EVOLearn, we study the ontogeny of cultural learning. Our team of cognitive developmental scientists studies the interplay of our universal mind and the variation of human culture.

The lab is directed by Dr. Legare, and is located in the psychology department at The University of Texas at Austin. 



EVOLearn Lab

Department of Psychology

The University of Texas at Austin

Texas, USA

Capuchin social networks