3rd cohort (2021-2024) (site currently under construction)

Project 1)
(Nivedita Mani, Tanya Behne & Julia Fischer)

The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start in October 2023.

Project 2) The interaction of gesture and language in sign and spoken narration
(Markus Steinbach & Nivedita Mani)

P2 - 3. Kohorte_passend

A comprehensive understanding of multimodal communication can only be achieved by a systematic comparison of sign languages to speech plus gestures. Hence, this requires the investigation of the full expressive power of gestural components in both modalities. Based on a video corpus of stories narrated by hearing native speakers and deaf native signers, the first aim of the project is to identify similarities and differences in the form and function of gestural components across the two modalities. We expect that signers, unlike speakers, use gestural components more systematically and integrate communicative manual and non-manual gestures more easily into the grammatical system since both sign language and gestures use the same visual-gestural modality. By contrast, certain kinds of iconic and expressive gestures are expected to behave more similar in both modalities since they typically add specific extralinguistic meaning components. The second aim of the project is the development of a multimodal semantic theory that offers a unified analysis of modality-independent and modality-specific aspects of visual meaning components. The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start in October 2021.

Project 3) Neuro-cognitive mechanisms of audio-visual integration in emotion communication
(Annekathrin Schacht)

EEG Experiment NWG Psycholinguistik

Humans use a wide range of means to express their emotions, both in the verbal and the non-verbal domain. Although there is evidence that emotion recognition is facilitated the more channels are provided, it is yet unsolved under which boundary conditions receivers integrate all of these cues. Within this project, we want to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying the processing and integration of multi-modal emotion information in dyadic interaction settings. A multi-measure approach will be used to obtain data on individuals' performance, event-related brain potentials, and peripheral physiological indicators. The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start in December 2021.

Project 4) Physiological and personality processes underlying extraversion and the emergence of social status
(Lars Penke & Julia Ostner)

Gruppen Diskussion Wirtschafts- und Sozialpsychologie

Consensus in unstructured human groups on who has higher social status, in terms of influence as well as received deference and social attention, emerges quickly after interactions between unacquainted individuals. Some personality traits have been robustly associated with spontaneous social status attainment, in particular extraversion. Two social strategies have been identified to mediate between extraversion and status attainment: prestige (being an attractive coalition partner or model for social learning) and dominance (being perceived as able to enact coercion, intimidation or imposition). Physiologically, status gains due to both strategies predict increases in testosterone. Notably, extraversion causes higher positive affect, probably through social interactions, though this effect is not well understood. In this project we will test if more extraverted individuals gain positive affect during such social interactions in small groups via the attainment of social status or if the effect of social status attainment on positive affect is especially strong in extraverts. We will also test whether this differs between social status attained through a more prestige- or dominance-based social strategy and if effects are associated with changes in testosterone. Mediating social cues, especially speaking patterns and visual attention, will be studied. The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start in October 2021.

Project 5) How between-group competition and within-group relatedness interact to shape social structure
(Oliver Schülke & Julia Ostner)


Theoretical models predict that increasing competition between groups should promote within-group tolerance to promote cooperation against outsiders. Such cooperation is vulnerable to free-riding though if its spoils are equally shared among members of the winning group. One mechanism that can stabilize cooperation in such collective action problems is kin selection whereby collaborators gain inclusive fitness benefits from uncontrolled sharing with closely related free-riders. This project will investigate how within-group social relationships change with increased between-group competition and how differences in tolerance and genetic relatedness among group members affects cooperation and success in between-group contests in wild Assamese macaques at Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand. The next PhD student (3rd cohort) will start in January 2022.

Project 6) Social and ecological determinants of female productivity and offspring survival
(Julia Ostner & Oliver Schülke)


Group-living is thought to evolve when the costs to the individual are exceeded by the benefits of permanent association relative to alternatives outside the group. Yet, neither costs nor benefits of group-living are likely to be the same for all group members. Instead, costs and benefits vary with relative spatial position in the group, with dominance rank, or with the frequency and diversity of friendly physical contacts with other group members. This project investigates how different positions in a given social structure are associated with evolutionary fitness measured from offspring production and survival in wild Assamese macaques at Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand. The next PhD student (3rd cohort) will start in January 2022.

Project 7) Social choices of juvenile Guinea baboons
(Julia Fischer)


Dispersal patterns have profound sex-specific effects on social relationships. In female-bonded societies, females remain in their natal groups and predominantly affiliate with their kin. Thus, female juveniles mostly interact with close relatives, while males spend time with peers until they disperse. Much less is known about the social life of juveniles in female-dispersing species: up to which age would youngsters follow their mothers, and when do they stay behind? How does female dispersal affect the sexes differentially? In this project, the candidate will study the social interaction of juvenile Guinea baboons at our field site Simenti in Senegal, to explore how dispersal patterns shape the social strategies of young baboons. The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start in October 2021.

Project 8) Social evaluations and decision making
(Stefanie Keupp)

Abbildung Kind Javaner Affe

As group-living primates, we often have to base our decisions and behaviour on what we know about ourselves, about others, and about the context at hand. An important skill in this regard is to obtain information about others, classify it, and use it in context-specific ways. In humans, these abilities for social evaluation and strategic decision-making are present early in childhood and become increasingly sophisticated throughout development. The aim of this project is to explore the scope of social evaluative abilities and identify underlying cognitive mechanisms in nonhuman primates. For this purpose, the PhD candidate will carry out cognitive experiments with long-tailed macaques and Tonkean macaques in Göttingen and Strasbourg (France). These experiments can be complemented with testing young children in collaboration with the Childlab “Göttinger Kindsköpfe” at the University of Göttingen. The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start in October 2021.

Project 9)
(Tanya Behne & Nivedita Mani)

The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start in October 2023.

Project 10)
(Hannes Rakoczy, Stefan Schulz-Hardt & Thomas Schultze)

The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start beginning of 2022.

Project 11) Emergence of leadership: Predicting leadership initiative and followership from individual traits and behavioral styles
(Stefan Schulz-Hardt & Andreas Mojzisch)

Gruppen Diskussion Wirtschafts- und Sozialpsychologie

Research on the emergence of leadership seeks to identify the factors that determine who will become leader in a group. A key idea of the present project is that variables that decide about whether or not a particular group member will attempt to lead a group (i.e., leadership initiative) need not be identical with those variables that affect the success of such attempts (i.e., followership). With this project, we aim to determine the influence of individual difference variables as well as behavioral styles on leadership initiative, on the one hand, and followership, on the other hand, in interactive group settings. In the forthcoming cohort, the PhD candidate will focus on how transactional and transformational leadership styles affect the success of leadership initiative and the choice of leaders. The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start in October 2021.

Project 12) Towards the socio-ecology of Guinea baboons: how food availability shapes social patterns
(Dietmar Zinner & Julia Fischer)


Ecology, in particular the distribution of resources in space and time, significantly affects the social organization of animal societies (reviewed by Janson 2000). Among baboons (genus Papio) hamadryas and Guinea baboons (P. hamadryas, P. papio) live in multi-level societies that allow a certain fission-fusion dynamic. Their social organization is unique among primates and was, at least for hamadryas baboons, regarded as an adaptation to their semi-desert environment to exploit the scarce and patchily distributed resources (Dunbar, 1988; Kummer, 1990; Barton, 2000). However, the savanna-forest habitat of Guinea baboons is more productive and food availability is most likely quite different from hamadryas habitats. It is however not clear whether food availability has an effect on fission-fusion in Guinea baboons at all and how it affects their spatial behavior and their grouping and competition pattern. Pattern of resource exploitation will also allow indirect inferences into spatial cognition of the baboons. The aim of the project is therefore to assess whether and how the availability of food resources affects the spatial behavior (habitat use) of Guinea baboons in a savanna forest mosaic at the CRP Simenti, Senegal, their grouping patterns, activity budgets and the level of food competition. The project will combine ecological methods to describe habitats, estimate food availability, movement pattern of baboons equipped with GPS collars and direct observations of baboons to determine size of feeding groups and frequencies of competitive interaction. The next PhD project (3rd cohort) will start in October 2021.

funded by the

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