We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Email and Telephone Directory

Staff Profile

Dr Rachel Kendal (nee Day)

Personal web page

Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Anthropology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41627

(email at


Welcome to my Durham University staff profile page. Please see my personal web page to find out more about my research.

Research Interests Summary: I am an interdisciplinary researcher with overlapping interests in cultural evolution, animal behaviour and primatology. My focus is on cultural transmisison, specifically social learning and behavioural innovation in a range of species from fish to monkeys to humans with a view to understanding the evolution of human culture. My approach emphasizes the importance of maintaining ecological validity, the integration of empirical and theoretical work and applications to societal isseus and public engagement. I have worked with, or am currently working with, laboratory populations of fish (guppies, mollies and sticklebacks) , captive (callitrichids, capuchins, lemurs, chimpanzees, Barbary macaques), and wild (lemurs, capuchins) nonhuman primates, as well as children in schools and science centres.

Short Biography: I completed a BSc in Behavioural Science at Nottingham University in 1998, then went on to receive my PhD in Zoology from Cambridge University in 2003. Following a career break, I began a Royal Society Dorothy Hoddgkin Fellowship in 2006, based in the Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution at St Andrews University. I continued this fellowship here in the Department of Anthropology before becoming an Assistant Professor in 2012, Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in 2014, and Associate Professor (Reader) in 2017.

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Research Interests

  • Social Learning
  • Behavioural Innovation
  • Cultural Evolution
  • Cumulative Culture
  • Applications to Welfare, Conservation & Science Communication

Teaching Areas

  • Cognitive Anthropology (Year 3)
  • Cultural Evolution (Year 4)
  • Our Place in Nature (Year 2)
  • Primate Behaviour (Year 4)
  • Understanding Behaviour (Year 3)

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Bailey-Ross, C., Rudman, H., Kendal, J., Mursic, Z., Lloyd, A., Ross, B. & Kendal, R.L. (Accepted). Reconnecting epistemologies via co-design and participatory action research practice. In Beyond Disciplinarity in Social Research: Methodologies, Epistemologies and Philosophies. Hayes, C., Fulton, J. & Petrie, K. London: Routledge.
  • Vale, G.L., Carr, K., Dean, L.G. & Kendal, R.L. (2017). The cultural capacity of human and nonhuman primates: Social learning, innovation, and cumulative culture. In Evolution of Nervous Systems. Kass, J. Oxford: Elsevier. 3: 475-508.
  • Kendal, R.L. (2015). Social learning and culture in non-human organisms. In International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Wright, J.D. Oxford: Elsevier. 22: 401-408.
  • Kendal R.L., Coolen, I. & Laland, K.N. (2009). Adaptive Trade-offs in the use of Social and Personal Information. In Cognitive Ecology II. Dukas, R. & Ratcliffe, J. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 249-271.
  • Laland, K.N., Kendal, J.R. & Kendal, R.L. (2009). Animal culture: problems and solutions. In The Question of Animal Culture. Laland, K.N. & Galef, B.G.Jr. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

Journal Article

  • Watson, S.K., Vale, G.L., Hopper, L.M., Dean, L.G., Kendal, R.L., Price, E.E., Wood, L.A., Davis, S.J., Schapiro, S.J., Lambeth, S.P. & Whiten, A. (2018). Chimpanzees demonstrate individual differences in social information use. Animal Cognition 21(5): 639-650.
  • Rudman, H., Bailey-Ross, C., Kendal, J., Mursic, Z., Lloyd, A., Ross, B. & Kendal, R.L. (2018). Multidisciplinary exhibit design in a Science Centre: a participatory action research approach. Educational Action Research 26(4): 567-588.
  • Kendal, R.L., Boogert, N., Rendell, L., Laland, K.N., Webster, M. & Jones, P.L. (2018). Social Learning Strategies: Bridge-building between fields. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 22(7): 651-665.
  • Evans, C.L., Laland, K.N., Carpenter, M. & Kendal, R.L. (2017). Selective copying of the majority suggests children are broadly “optimal-” rather than “over-” imitators. Developmental Science 39(4): e257-e264.
  • Vale, Gillian, Flynn, Emma G., Kendal Jeremy R., Rawlings, Bruce, Hopper Lydia M., Schapiro Steven J., Lambeth Susan P. & Kendal Rachel 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.
  • van Leeuwen, E.J.C., Acerbi, A., Kendal, R.L., Tennie, C. & Haun, D.B.M. (2016). A reappreciation of ‘conformity’. Animal Behaviour 122: e5-e10.
  • Kendal, R.L., Kendal, J.R., Mursic, Z., Bailey-Ross, C., Rudman, H., Lloyd, A. & Ross, B. (2016). Designing for creativity and innovation in informal science learning. Informal Learning Review (137): 20-24.
  • Carr, K., Kendal, R.L. & Flynn, E.G. (2016). Eureka!: What is innovation, how does it develop, and who does it? Child Development 87(5): 1505-1519.
  • Vale, G., Flynn, E., Pender, L., Price, E., Whiten, A., Lambeth, P., Schapiro, S. & Kendal, R. (2016). Robust retention and transfer of tool construction techniques in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). The Journal of Comparative Psychology 130(1): 24-35.
  • Kendal, RL, Hopper, LM, Whiten, A, Brosnan, SF, Lambeth, SP, Schapiro, SJ & Hoppitt, W (2015). Chimpanzees copy dominant and knowledgeable individuals: Implications for cultural diversity. Evolution and Human Behavior 15(1): 65-72.
  • van Leeuwen, E.J.C., Kendal, R.L., Tennie, C. & Haun, D.B.M. (2015). Conformity and its look-a-likes. Animal Behaviour 110: e1-e4.
  • Wood, L., Kendal, R. & Flynn, E. (2015). Does a peer model’s task proficiency influence children’s solution choice and innovation? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 139: 190-202.
  • Carr, K., Kendal, R.L. & Flynn, E.G. (2015). Imitate or Innovate? Children’s Innovation is Influenced by the Efficacy of Observed Behaviour. Cognition 142: 322-332.
  • Dean, L.G. & Kendal, R.L. (2015). Subjectivity may hinder the application of Kline's teaching framework in comparative contexts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 38: e38.
  • Dean, L., Vale, G.L., Laland, K.N., Flynn, E.G. & Kendal, R.L. (2014). Human cumulative culture: a comparative perspective. Biological Reviews 89(2): 284-301.
  • Hopper, L.M., Price, S.A., Freeman, H.D., Lambeth, S.P., Schapiro, S.J. & Kendal, R.L. (2014). Influence of personality, age, sex, and oestrus state on chimpanzee problem-solving success. Animal Cognition 17(4): 835-847.
  • Vale, G.L., Flynn, E.G., Lambeth, S.P., Schapiro, S.J. & Kendal, R.L. (2014). Public information use in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and children (Homo sapiens). The Journal of Comparative Psychology 128(2): 215-223.
  • Wood, L.A., Kendal, R.L. & Flynn, E.G. (2013). Copy you or copy me? The effect of prior personally-acquired, and alternative method, information on imitation. Cognition 127(2): 203-213.
  • Flynn, E.G., Laland, K.N., Kendal, R.L. & Kendal, J.R. (2013). Developmental niche construction. Developmental Science 16(2): 296-313.
  • Wood, L.A., Kendal, R. & Flynn, E.G. (2013). Whom do children copy? Model-based biases in learning. Developmental Review 33(4): 341-356.
  • Wood, L.A., Kendal, R.L. & Flynn, E.G. (2012). Context-dependent model-based biases in cultural transmission: children's imitation is affected by model age over model knowledge state. Evolution and Human Behavior 33(4): 387-394.
  • Vale, G.L., Flynn, E.G. & Kendal, R.L. (2012). Cumulative culture and future thinking: Is mental time travel a prerequisite to cumulative cultural evolution? Learning and Motivation 43: 220-230.
  • Dean, L.G., Kendal, R.L., Schapiro, S.J., Thierry, B. & Laland, K.N. (2012). Identification of the social and cognitive processes underlying human cumulative culture. Science 335(6072): 1114-1118.
  • Kendal, R.L., Custance, D., Kendal, J.R., Vale, G., Stoinski, T., Rakotomalala, N.I. & Rasaminanana, H. (2010). Evidence for social learning in wild lemurs (Lemur catta). Learning & Behavior 38(3): 220-234.
  • Kendal, R.L., Galef, B.G. & van Schaik, C.P. (2010). Social learning research outside the laboratory: How and Why? Learning & Behavior 38(3): 187-194.
  • Kendal, R.L., Kendal, J.R., Hoppitt, W. & Laland, K.N. (2009). Identifying Social Learning in Animal Populations: A New ‘Option-Bias’ Method. PLoS ONE 4(8): e6541.
  • Stanley, E.L., Kendal, R.L., Kendal, J.R., Grounds, S. & Laland, K.N. (2008). Factors affecting the stability of foraging traditions in fishes. Animal Behaviour 75: 565-572.
  • Hoppitt, W., Brown, G.R., Kendal, R.L. , Rendell, L., Thornton, A., Webster, M. & Laland, K.N. (2008). Lessons from animal teaching. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23: 486-493.
  • Kendal, R.L., Dean, L. & Laland, K.N. (2007). Objectivism should not be a casualty of innovation’s operationalization. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30(4): 413-414.
  • Kendal, J.R., Kendal, R.L. & Laland, K.N. (2007). Quantifying and modeling social learning processes in monkey populations. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy 7(2): 123-138.
  • Kendal, R.L., Coe, R.L. & Laland, K.N. (2005). Age differences in neophilia, exploration, and innovation in family groups of callitrichid monkeys. American Journal of Primatology 66(2): 167-188.
  • Laland, K.N., Coolen, I. & Kendal, R.L. (2005). Defining the Concept of Public Information (Letter: Response from Kevin N. Laland, Isabelle Coolen, and Rachel Kendal). Science 308(5720): 354-355.
  • Kendal, R.L., Coolen, I., van Bergen, Y. & Laland, K.N. (2005). Trade-offs in the adaptive use of social and asocial learning. Advances in the Study of Behavior 35: 333-379.
  • Kendal, R.L., Coolen, I. & Laland, K.N. (2004). The role of conformity in foraging when personal and social information conflict. Behavioral Ecology 15(2): 269-277.
  • Day, R.L., Coolen, I., van Bergen, Y, & Laland, K.N. (2003). Commentary upon article, 'Social Conventions in Wild White-faced Capuchin Monkeys'. Current Anthropology 44: 258-259.
  • Day, R.L., Coe, R.L., Kendal, J.R. & Laland, K.N. (2003). Neophilia, innovation and social learning: A study of intergeneric differences in Callitrichid monkeys. Animal Behaviour 65: 559-571.
  • Day, R.L., Laland, K.N. & Odling-Smee, J. (2003). Rethinking Adaptation: The Niche Construction Perspective. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 46: 80-95.
  • Coolen, I., van Bergen, Y., Day, R.L. & Laland, K.N (2003). Species differences in adaptive use of public information in sticklebacks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 270(1531): 2413-2419.
  • Brown, C. & Day, R.L. (2002). The future of stock enhancements: lessons for hatchery practice from conservation biology. Fish and Fisheries 3: 79-94.
  • Day, R.L., MacDonald, T., Brown, C., Laland, K.N. & Reader, S.M. (2001). Interactions between shoal size and conformity in guppy social foraging. Animal Behaviour 62: 917-925.
  • Day, R.L., Kendal, J.R. & Laland, K.N. (2001). Validating cultural transmission in Cetaceans. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24(2): 330-331.

Doctoral Thesis

  • Day, R.L. (2003). Innovation and social learning in monkeys and fish: Empirical findings and their application to reintroduction techniques. University of Cambridge. PhD.

Edited Journal

  • Kendal, R.L., Galef, B.G. & van Schaik, C.P. (2010). Capturing Social Learning in Natural Contexts: Methodological Insights and Implications for Culture. Learning & Behavior, 8 (3).

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Kendal, R.L. (2014). The human race evolved to be fair for selfish reasons. The conversation
  • Kendal, R.L. (2008). Animal ‘Culture Wars’; Evidence from the Wild? The Psychologist 21: 312-315.

Other (Print)

  • Kendal, J.R., Tehrani, J. & Kendal, R.L. (2009). The evolution of human behaviour. Quick Guide. Triple Sciences Support Programme in association with RCUK

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Anthropology: Social Learning
  • Psychology: Social Learning
  • Anthropology: Behavioural Innovation