My research explores the evolutionary origins of the human mind by comparing the cognitive abilities of human and non-human primates.My experiments focus on non-human primates (in captivity and in the field) incorporating methodologies from cognitive development, cognitive science, and animal learning. My research examines the following broad questions: what domains of knowledge are unique to the human mind? Given that human infants and non-human primates both lack language, what similarities and differences do we see in the expression of non-linguistic domains of knowledge?
My current work explores whether primates possess precursors to a theory of mind, how primates reason about different kinds of things (foods, artifacts, and animals), and whether primates share human-like decision-making biases.
Lakshminarayanan, V., Chen, M. K., & Santos, L. R. (2011). The evolution of decision-making under risk: Framing effects in monkey risk preferences. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47. 689-693.
Egan, L., Bloom, P., & Santos, L. R. (2010). Choice-induced preferences in the absence of choice: Evidence from a blind two-choice paradigm with young children and capuchin monkeys. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46. 204-207.
Phillips, W., Shankar, M., & Santos, L. R. (2010). Essentialism in the absence of language? Evidence from rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Developmental Science, 13(4). F1-F7.
Lakshminarayanan, V. & Santos, L. R. (2008). Capuchin monkeys are sensitive to others? welfare. Current Biology, 18. R999-R1000.