Valerie Kuhlmeier

Valerie Kuhlmeier

Associate Department Head, Professor

Department of Psychology

People Directory Affiliation Category

B.A., UC San Diego, 1995
B.S., UC San Diego, 1995
M.A., Ohio State University, 1997
Ph.D., Ohio State University, 2000

Lab Site

Curriculum Vitae [PDF]

Name Pronunciation Guide:
"VAL-ur-ee COOL-my-ur"

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Research Interests

My research program explores cognition from a developmental and evolutionary perspective. I examine the origins of our cognitive capacities, focusing primarily on our abilities to distinguish animate and inanimate objects, to interpret the behavior and infer the mental states of others, and to engage in prosocial behaviour. Each is examined in a comparative manner, studying infants, young children, and non-human primates. The research thus relies upon both developmental and comparative psychology theory to form and test hypotheses.

Selected Publications

Click to go to a full list of publications by Valerie Kuhlmeier


Olmstead, M.C. & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2015). Comparative Cognition. Cambridge University Press.

Rutherford, M.D. & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (Eds.) (2013). Social Perception: Detection and Interpretation of Animacy, Agency, and Intention. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Bradford Books.

Representative Papers and Book Chapters:

Hilton, B.C., O'Neill, AC., & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2021). Emerging selectivity: Group membership and early prosociality. Journal of Cognition and Development, 22(2), 267-280.

Kuhlmeier, V.A., Karasewich, T.A., & Olmstead, M.C. (2020). Teaching animal learning and cognition: Adapting to the online environment. Comparative Cognition and Behavior Reviews, 15, 187-198

Karasewich, T.A., & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2020). Trait social anxiety as a conditional adaptation: A developmental and evolutionary framework. Developmental Review, 55, 100886.

Karasewich, T., Kuhlmeier, V.A., Beier, J.S., & Dunfield, K.A. (2019). Getting help for others: An examination of indirect helping in young children. Developmental Psychology, 55, 606-611. PsyArXiv: 10.31234/

Hilton, B.C., & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2019). Intention attribution and the development of moral evaluation. Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental Psychology.

Dunfield, K.A., Best, L.J., Kelley, E.A., & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2019). Motivating moral behavior: Helping, sharing, and comforting in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental Psychology.

O'Neill, A.C., Swigger, K., & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2018). Make The Connection’ parenting skills program: a controlled trial of associated improvement in maternal attitudes. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 36(5), 536-547. doi: 10.1080/02646838.2018.1497779

Robson, S.J., & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2016). Infants’ understanding of object-directed action: An interdisciplinary synthesis. Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00111

Sabbagh, M.A., Koenig, M.A., & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2016). Conceptual constraints and mechanisms in children’s selective social learning. Developmental Science, 10.1111/desc.12415.

Robson, S.J., Lee, V., Kuhlmeier, V.A., & Rutherford, M.D. (2014). Infants use contextual contingency to guide their interpretation of others' goal-directed behavior. Cognitive Development, 31, 69-78.

Dunfield, K.A. & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2013). Classifying prosocial behaviour: children’s responses to instrumental need, emotional distress, and material desire. Child Development, 84, 1766-1776.

Dunfield, K.A., Kuhlmeier, V.A., O’Connell, L., & Kelley, E. (2011). Examining the diversity of prosocial behavior: helping, sharing, and comforting in infancy. Infancy, 16(3), 227-247.

Newman, G.E., Keil, F.C., Kuhlmeier, V.A., & Wynn, K. (2010). Early understandings of the link between agents and order. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 17140-17145.

Dunfield, K.A., & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2010). Intention-mediated selective helping in infancy. Psychological Science, 21, 523-527.

Yamaguchi, M., Kuhlmeier, V.A., Wynn, K., & vanMarle, K. (2009). Continuity in Social Cognition from Infancy to Childhood. Developmental Science, 12, 746-752.

Kuhlmeier, V.A., Wynn, K., & Bloom, P. (2003). Attribution of Dispositional States by 12-month-olds. Psychological Science, 14, 402-408.

Kuhlmeier, V.A., & Boysen, S.T. (2002). Chimpanzees' recognition of the spatial and object similarities between a scale model and its referent. Psychological Science, 13, 60-63.