Professor Emma Flynn, Ph.D.
My research focuses on various aspects of socio-cognitive development, including social learning (observational learning, peer tutoring and collaboration), the acquisition, transmission and evolution of cultural behaviours and the development of, and inter-relations between, theory of mind and executive functioning. In my work I have adopted specialised methods, including the microgenetic method, diffusion chains and open diffusion.
- Mechanisms of observational learning (including imitation and emulation)
- Processes and strategies of information transmission
- Acquisition of artefact knowledge and tool use
- Social learning: Observational learning, collaboration and peer tutoring
- Cumulative culture
- The development of socio-cognitive skills (theory of mind and executive functioning)
Journal Reviewer: Animal Behaviour; British Journal of Developmental Psychology; Child Development; Cognitive Development; Current Anthropology; Current Biology; Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience; Developmental Neuropsychology; Developmental Psychology; Developmental Review; Developmental Science; Evolution and Human Behaviour; Journal for the Study of Education and Development; Infant and Child Development; International Journal for Infant Behavior; Learning and Instruction; Philosophical Psychology; Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society; PLoS One; Scientific Reports; Social Development; Journal of Experimental Child Psychology; Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
Grant Reviewer: Economic and Social Research Council; The Leverhulme Trust; The Nuffield Foundation; Royal Society; British Academy; National Science Foundation, USA; Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.
PhD Examining: Cardiff, Psychology; Stirling, Psychology; Durham, Psychology & Education; Utretch, Biology.
Information for prospective doctoral research student supervisions
I am happy to receive enquiries from students who are interested in completing a PhD on any of my research interests
School of Education
Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing
School of Education
- CAPES (Brazilian Government Funding) An investigation into the social learning of co-operation in children: cognitive, cultural and social differences
- Developmental Trajectory of Trust (and Mistrust) through Childhood into Adulthood
- Mind the Gap: Evaluation
- NHS & Durham University: Spread and Embed: Investigating the adoption, transmission and evolution of healthcare processes
- The Trust Map
- Uncovering the determinants of the discovery, utilisation and transmission of information through social learning and innovation in young children
Indicators of Esteem
- 2017: Social Cognition Panel Member:
Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research into Child Development, Austin,
- 2016: External Examiner:
School of Psychology, University of Nottingham
- 2016: National Seminars:
Durham University; University of Sheffield; University of Stirling
- 2016: Speaker:
Agency, Morals & the Mind; The Human Mind Project, School of Advanced Study, University of London
- 2015: Cognitive Processes Panel Member: Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research into Child Development, Philadelphia, US:
- 2014: Co-Hosting Templeton Foundation and ESRC Funded Workshop, 'Innovation in Animals and Humans' (St Andrews, UK) :
- 2014: Cognition Panel Member: International Conference on Infant Studies, Berlin
- 2014: National Seminars : University of Kent; University of Essex
- 2014: Peer Review College:
Joined the ESRC Peer Review College for 2 years from November
- 2013: Associate Editor: PLOSOne
- 2013: International Seminar: University of Heidelberg, Germany
- 2013: Invited Speaker: ERC meeting 'Embodiment and Extension in Cultural Evolution', University of Cambridge, Developmental Niche Construction
- 2013: Panel Member: Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research into Child Development, Seattle, US
- 2012: Forum member: Invitation to attend the Ernst Strugmann Forum on Cultural Evolution, Frankfurt
- 2012: International Panel Member : The Romanian Government's National Research Council
- 2012: National Seminars: Institute of Education; Bangor University; Plymouth University
- 2011: Conference address: Invited to Address the AHRC Culture and the Mind: Artefacts and Material Culture Series, University of Sheffield
- 2011: Conference address: Invited to Address the Physical Cognition and Problem Solving Series, University of Birmingham
- 2011: National Seminars: University of York; University of Lancaster; University of Northumbria; City University
- 2010: Invited Seminar: At the Max Plank Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig
- 2007: Guest editor: For Special Issue of Infant and Child Development: 'Using microgenetic methods to investigate cognitive development'
Chapter in book
- Mesoudi, A., Laland, K.N., Boyd, R., Buchanan, B., Flynn, E., McCauley, R.N., Renn, J., Reyes-Garcia, V., Shennan, S.J., Stout, D. & Tennie, C. (2013). The cultural evolution of technology and science. In Cultural Evolution: Society, Technology, Language, and Religion. Richerson, P. & Christiansen, M. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
- Flynn, E. (2010). Underpinning Collaborative Learning. In Self and Social Regulation: Social interaction and the development of social understanding and executive functions. Sokol, B., Muller, U., Carpendale, J., Young, A. & Iarocci, G. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 312-336.
- Stubbersfield, J., Tehrani, J. & Flynn, E. (2017). Chicken tumours and fishy revenge: Evidence for emotional content bias in the cumulative recall of urban legends. Journal of Cognition and Culture 17(1-2): 12-26.
- Turner, C., Giraldeau, L.-A. & Flynn, E. (2017). How does the reliability of a model affect children's choice to learn socially or individually?. Evolution and Human Behavior 38(3): 341-349.
- 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.
- Reader, S., Morand-Ferron, J. & Flynn, E. (2016). Animal and human innovation: novel problems and novel solutions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 371(1690): 20150182.
- 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.
- Lough, E., Flynn, E. & Riby, D. M. (2016). Personal space regulation in Williams syndrome: The effect of familiarity. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 46(10): 3207-3215.
- 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.
- Flynn, E., Turner, C. & Giraldeau, L.-A. (2016). Selectivity in social and asocial learning: investigating the prevalence, effect and development of young children's learning preferences. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 371(1690): 20150189.
- 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.
- Lough, E., Flynn, E. & Riby, D. M. (2015). Mapping real-world to online vulnerability in young people with developmental disorders: Illustrations from autism and Williams syndrome. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 2(1): 1-7.
- Stubbersfield, J.M., Tehrani, J.J. & Flynn, E.G. (2015). Serial killers, spiders and cybersex social and survival information bias in the transmission of urban legends. British Journal of Psychology 106(2): 288-307.
- 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.
- 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.
- Flynn, E. & Whiten, A. (2013). Dissecting children's observational learning of complex actions through selective video displays. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 116(2): 247-263.
- 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.
- Flynn, E. & Whiten, A. (2012). Experimental 'microcultures' in young children: identifying biographic, cognitive, and social predictors of information transmission. Child Development 83(3): 911-925.
- Kaley, F., Reid, V.M. & Flynn, E (2012). Investigating the biographic, social and temperamental correlates of young infants’ sleeping, crying and feeding routines. Infant Behavior and Development 35: 596-605.
- Flynn, E. & Smith, K. (2012). Investigating the mechanisms of cultural acquisition: How pervasive is overimitation in adults?. Social Psychology 43(4): 185-195.
- Kaley, F., Reid, V. & Flynn, E. (2011). The psychology of infant colic: A review of current research. Infant Mental Health Journal 32(5): 526-541.
- Hopper, L., Flynn, E., Wood, L. & Whiten, A. (2010). Observational learning of tool use in children: Investigating cultural spread through diffusion chains and learning mechanisms through ghost displays. Journal Of Experimental Child Psychology 106(1): 82-97.
- Flynn, E.G. & Whiten, A. (2010). Studying children’s social learning experimentally “in the wild”. Learning and Behavior 38(3): 284-296.
- Whiten, A. & Flynn, E. (2010). The Transmission and Evolution of Experimental Microcultures in Groups of Young Children. Developmental Psychology 46(6): 1694-1709.
- Flynn, E. & Whiten, A. (2008). Cultural transmission of tool use in young children: A diffusion chain study. Social Development 17(3): 699-718.
- Flynn, E. & Whiten, A. (2008). Imitation of hierarchical structure versus component details of complex actions by 3- and 5-year-olds. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 101(4): 228-240.
- Flynn, E (2008). Investigating children as cultural magnets: Do young children transmit redundant information along diffusion chains?. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 363(1509): 3541-3551.
- Miss Lara Wood
- Mr. Joseph Stubbersfield
- Ms Fiona Kaley
- Mrs Natalia Dutra
- Mr Scott Lauder
- Mr Bruce Rawlings
- Miss Emma Dobson
- 2014: Developmental Trajectory of Trust (and Mistrust) through Childhood into Adulthood (£5000.00 from Epsrc)
- 2014: The Trust Map (£217125.00 from ESRC)
- 2013: CAPES (Brazilian Government Funding, 2013 – 2016, Full Studentship and Fees), ‘An investigation into the social learning of co-operation in children: cognitive, cultural and social difference’ for Natalia Dutra.
- 2013: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust and Durham University Seedcorn Funding ‘Spread and Embed: Investigating the adoption, transmission and evolution of healthcare processes’ PI (2013, £26572), Co-Is (Prof J Reilly & Prof D Hunter, School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, and Mr M Sykes, Head of Patient Safety and Risk, TEWV NHS FT)
- 2012: ESRC Grant Award, 'Uncovering the determinants of the discovery, utilisation and transmission of information through social learning and innovation in young children' PI (2012- 2015: £252000), Co-I is Prof Luc-Alain Giraldeau
- 2012: North East Doctoral Training Centre Studentship, ‘Understanding the process of behavioural innovation’ to Miss Kayleigh Carr
- 2012: RF230065: Uncovering the determinants of the discovery, Utilisation and transmission of information through social learning and innovation in young children, ESRC, £252,000, 2012-09-29 - 2015-09-28
- 2010: Durham University Industrial Bridging Fellow Award, ‘Investigating infant sleep patterns’ for Miss Anna Groendahl (£23000)
- 2010: Durham University Seedcorn Funding ‘Towards an understanding of cumulative culture: A developmental and comparative perspective’ (£5000)
- 2010: Durham University Studentship Award ‘Towards an understanding of cumulative culture: A developmental and comparative perspective’ for Miss Gill Vale
- 2009: Durham Doctoral Fellowship Award, ‘From whom do I learn? Human and non-human primates' understanding of the model’ for Miss Lara Wood
- 2008: ESRC Case Studentship Award, ‘The psychology of infant colic’ to Miss Fiona Kaley
- 2008: Mentor for an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, ‘The development of social learning in children: The interplay between imitation and emulation’ Dr Lydia Hopper (£81076)
- 2007: ESRC Research Seminars Award 'Using the microgenetic method to investigate cognitive development' (2005: £12000)
- 2004: British Psychological Society Research Seminars Award ‘Using the microgenetic method to investigate cognitive development’ (£3000)