UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Experimental Psychology Seminar - Brian Hare, Duke University

06 March 2024, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm

Brian Hare promo picture

Professor Brian Hare, Duke University, joins us to discuss the self-domestication hypothesis, exploring how dogs, bonobos, and humans share evolutionary paths through social problem-solving and reduced aggression. Discover how our 'inner dog' may explain human social and cognitive development.

Event Information

Open to



Antonietta Esposito


Room C3.11
20 Bedford Way, Institute of Education

Venue :
20 Bedford Way, Institute of Education – room C3.11
Zoom : 
Meeting ID: 984 6411 0975
Passcode: 35849

Title : 
Survival of the Friendliest: Convergence in dog, bonobo and human mind

Abstract :
I will present the self-domestication hypothesis for cognitive evolution by examining convergence between dog, bonobo and human psychology, morphology, and development. Studies of domesticated animals – and in particular dogs – have shown that selection against aggression leads to evolution in social problem solving skills.  Comparisons of bonobos to chimpanzees show that bonobos evolved as a result of self-domestication that similarly shaped bonobo social cognition through selection against aggression. These nonhuman comparisons point to the possibility that humans are also self-domesticated.  I present the first tests of this hypothesis that reveal the centrality of evolution in our cognitive development. I conclude we are apes that became human by evolving dog-like social psychology.  

About the Speaker

Brian Hare

Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology, Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University

Dr. Brian Hare is a core member of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience, a Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology, and Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, founded the Hominoid Psychology Research Group while at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, and subsequently created the Duke Canine Cognition Center when arriving at Duke. He has co-authored three books and published over 100 scientific papers including in Science, Nature and PNAS.  His research on dozens of different animal species, including dogs, wolves, bonobos, chimpanzees and humans, has taken him everywhere from Siberia to the Congo Basin. Together with his wife Vanessa Woods he wrote the New York Times Bestselling book The Genius of Dogs, the international bestselling book Survival of the Friendliest and their newest book The Puppy Kindergarten that will be published summer 2024 by Random House. 

More about Brian Hare

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