School of Psychology
University of Queensland
St Lucia QLD 4072
BSc (Flinders University)
PostGradDip - Psychology (LaTrobe University)
Post-doctoral Resarch Fellow (University of Queensland)
Research Associate: Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Director, Early Cognitive Development Centre: http://www.psy.uq.edu.au/research/ecdc/
Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science
Member: Association for Psychological Science; Society for Research in Child Development; Australasian Human Development Association
Associate Editor: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Editorial Consultant: Child Development; Journal of Comparative Psychology; Infant and Child Development
Ad Hoc Reviewer: Animal Cognition; Australian Journal of Psychology; Autism; Behavioral and Brain Sciences; Biological Reviews; Biology Letters; British Journal of Developmental Psychology; British Journal of Psychology; Child Development; Cognition; Cognitive Development; Current Biology; Developmental Psychology; Developmental Science; Ethology; Infancy; Infant Behaviour and Development; Infant and Child Development; Interaction Studies; International Journal of Behavioral Development; International Journal of Behavioral Medicine; International Journal of Disability, Development and Education; Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology; Journal of Comparative Psychology; Journal of Experimental Child Psychology; Journal of Comparative Psychology; Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society; PLoS ONE; Psychological Bulletin; Psychological Science; Science
I am interested in a range of inter-related aspects of socio-cognitive development in young human children and nonhuman primates. At present my research is primarily focused on charting the origins and development of human cultural cognition.
TEDxUQ Talk: How grandma helped invent the iPhone
Kennedy-Costantini, S., Oostenbroek, J., Suddendorf, T., Nielsen, M., Redshaw, J., Davis, J., Clark, S., & Slaughter, V. (accepted 30/09/2016)). There is no compelling evidence that human neonates imitate. Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Nielsen, M., & Whiten, A. (accepted 11/06/2016). Answers aren’t always set in stone. Current Anthropology.
Shipton, C., & Nielsen, M. (in press). The acquisition of knapping skill in the Acheulean. In F D Vincenzo (Ed.), The Evolution of Primate Social Cognition. Springer
Kapitány, R., & Nielsen, M. (accepted 06/01/16). The ritual stance and the precaution system: The role of goal-demotion and opacity in ritual and everyday actions. Religion, Brain & Behavior.
Oostenbroek, J., Suddendorf, T., Nielsen, M., Redshaw, J., Kennedy-Costantini, S., Davis, J., Clark, S., & Slaughter, V. (2016). Comprehensive longitudinal study challenges the existence of neonatal imitation in humans. Current Biology, 26, 1334-1338.
Wilks, M., Kapitány, R., & Nielsen, M. (2016). Preschool children's learning proclivities: When the ritual stance trumps the instrumental stance. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 34, 402-414.
Nielsen, M., Tomaselli, K., Mushin, I., & Whiten, A. (2016). Imitation, collaboration and their interaction among Western and Indigenous Australian preschool children. Child Development, 87, 795-806
Nielsen, M., & Haun, D. (2016). Why developmental psychology is incomplete without comparative and cross-cultural perspectives. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 371, 20150071
Legare, C. H., & Nielsen, M. (2015). Imitation and innovation: The dual engines of cultural learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19, 688-699.
Kapitány, R., & Nielsen, M. (2015). Adopting the ritual stance: The role of opacity and context in ritual and everyday actions. Cognition, 145, 13-29.
Shipton, C., & Nielsen, M. (2015). Before cumulative culture. Human Nature, 26, 331-345.
Wilks, M., Collier-Baker, E., & Nielsen, M. (2015). Preschool children favor copying a successful individual over an unsuccessful group. Developmental Science, 18, 1014-1024
Nielsen, M. (2015). Pretend play and cognitive development. In J Wright (Ed.), International Encylopedia of Social & Behavioral Science (2nd edition Vol. 18), pp. 870-876. Oxford UK: Elsevier. B1
Neldner, K., Collier-Baker, E., & Nielsen, M. (2015). Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and human children (Homo sapiens) know when they are ignorant about the location of food. Animal Cognition, 18, 683-699
Nielsen, M., Kapitány, R., & Elkins, R. (2015). The perpetuation of ritualistic actions as revealed by young children’s transmission of normative behaviour. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 191-198
Nielsen, M. & Shipton, C. (2015). Childhood and the evolution of higher-effort teaching. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38, 34-35.
Nielsen, M., Tomaselli, K., Mushin, I., & Whiten, A. (2014). Where culture takes hold: “Overimitation” and its flexible deployment in Western, Aboriginal, and Bushmen children. Child Development, 85, 2169-2184.
Shahaeian, A., Nielsen, M., Peterson, C. C., & Slaughter, V. (2014). Iranian mothers’ disciplinary strategies and theory of mind in children: a focus on belief understanding. The Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45, 1110-1123
Cowan, D. G., Vanman, E. J., & Nielsen, M. (2014). Motivated empathy: The mechanics of the empathic gaze. Cognition and Emotion, 28, 1522-1530
Shahaeian, A., Nielsen, M., Peterson, C. C., Aboutalebi, M., & Slaughter, V. (2014). Knowledge and belief understanding among Iranian and Australian preschool children. The Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45, 1643–1654 - http://jcc.sagepub.com/content/45/10/1643.full.pdf?ijkey=trJ9NtvbBTz9w3F&keytype=ref
Tear, M., & Nielsen, M. (2014). Video games and prosocial behavior: A study of the effects of non-violent, violent and ultra-violent gameplay. Computers in Human Behavior, 41, 8-13. - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563214004415
Nielsen, M., Tomaselli, K., Mushin, I., & Whiten, A. (2014). Exploring tool innovation: A comparison of Western and Bushman children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 126, 384-394.
Shahaeian, A., Nielsen, M., Peterson, C. C., & Slaughter, V. (2014). Cultural and family influences on children’s theory of mind development: A comparison of Australian and Iranian school-age children. The Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45, 555-568
Turner, C. R., Nielsen, M., & Collier-Baker. (2014). Group actions trump normative emotional reaction in an incidental observation by young children. PLoS ONE, 9, e107375. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107375
Oostenbroek, J., Slaughter, V., Nielsen, M., & Suddendorf, T. (2013). Why the confusion around neonatal imitation?: A Review. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 31, 328-341
Tear, M. J., & Nielsen, M. (2013). Failure to demonstrate that playing violent video games diminishes prosocial behavior. PLoS One, 8, e68382.
Suddendorf, T., Oostenbroek, J., Nielsen, M., Slaughter, V. (2013). Is newborn imitation developmentally homologous to later social-cognitive skills? Developmental Psychobiology, 55, 52-58
Nielsen, M. (2013). Young children’s imitative and innovative behavior on the floating object task. Infant and Child Development, 22,44-52.
Nielsen, M., Slaughter, V. and Dissanayake, C. (2013), Object-directed imitation in children with high-functioning autism: Testing the social motivation hypothesis. Autism Research, 6, 23-32.
Zmyj, N., Daum, M. M., Prinz, W., Nielsen, M., Aschersleben, G. (2012). Fourteen-month-olds’ imitation of differently aged models. Infant and Child Development, 21, 250-266
Nielsen, M., Subiaul, F., Whiten, A., Galef, B., & Zentall, T. (2012). Social learning in humans and non-human animals: Theoretical and empirical dissections. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 126, 109-113.
Nielsen, M., Moore, C., & Mohamedally, J. (2012). Young children overimitate in third-party contexts. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 112, 73-83..
Nielsen, M. (2012). Childhood and advances in human tool use. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 35, 30-31.
Nielsen, M. (2012). Imitation, pretend play and childhood: Essential elements in the evolution of human culture? Journal of Comparative Psychology, 126, 170-181.
Nielsen, M., Cucchiaro, J., & Mohamedally. (2012). When the transmission of culture is child’s play. PLoS ONE, 7, e34066
Fletcher, R., & Nielsen, M. (2012). Product-based television and young children's pretend play in Australia. Journal of Children and Media, 6, 5-17.
Nielsen, M., & Blank, C. (2011). Imitation in young children: When who gets copied is more important than what gets copied. Developmental Psychology,47, 1050-1053
Suddendorf, T., Nielsen, M., & van Gehlen, R. (2011). Children’s capacity to remember a novel problem and to secure its future solution. Developmental Science,14, 26-33
Nielsen, M. & Widjojo, E. (2011). Failure to find over-imitation in captive orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus): Implications for our understanding of cross-generation information transfer. In J Håkansson (Ed.), Developmental Psychology (pp.153-167). New York NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Nielsen, M., & Tomaselli, K. (2010). Over-imitation in Kalahari Bushman children and the origins of human cultural cognition. Psychological Science,21, 729-736
Nielsen, M., & Hudry, K. (2010). Over-imitation in children with Autism and Down syndrome. Australian Journal of Psychology,62, 67-74.
Nielsen, M. (2009). The imitative behaviour of children and chimpanzees: A window on the transmission of cultural traditions.Revue de primatologie[on line], 1, document 5. URL : http://primatologie.revues.org/254
Nielsen, M. (2009). 12-month-olds produce others’ intended but unfulfilled acts. Infancy,14, 377-389.
Carpenter, M. & Nielsen, M. (2008). Tools, TV and trust: Introduction to the special issue on imitation in typically developing children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,101, 225-227.
Nielsen, M., & Carpenter, M. (2008). Reflecting on imitation in autism. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,101, 165-169.
Nielsen, M., Simcock, G., & Jenkins, L. (2008). The effect of social engagement on 24-month-olds’ imitation from live and televised models. Developmental Science,11, 722-731.
Nielsen, M., & Christie, T. (2008). Adult modelling facilitates young children’s generation of novel pretend acts. Infant and Child Development,17, 151-162.
Nielsen, M. (2008). The social motivation for social learning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences,31, 33.
Slaughter, V., Nielsen, M., & Enchelmaier, P. (2008). Interacting socially with human hands at 24 months of age. Infancy,13, 185-195.
Suddendorf, T., Simcock, G., & Nielsen, M. (2007). Visual self-recognition in mirrors and live videos: Evidence for a developmental asynchrony. Cognitive Development,22, 185-196.
Nielsen M., & Slaughter, V. (2007). Multiple motivations for imitation in infancy. In K. Dautenhahn & C. L. Nehaniv (Eds.), Imitation and Social Learning in Robots, Humans and Animals: Behavioural, Social and Communicative Dimensions (pp. 343-360). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nielsen, M. (2006). Copying actions and copying outcomes: Social learning through the second year. Developmental Psychology,42, 555-565.
Nielsen, M., Suddendorf, T., & Slaughter, V. (2006). Mirror self-recognition beyond the face. Child Development,77, 176-185
Collier-Baker, E., Davis, J. M., Nielsen, M., & Suddendorf, T. (2006). Do chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) understand single invisible displacement? Animal Cognition,9, 55-61.
Randell, A., & Nielsen, M. (2006). Children’s communication of pretend acts using social cues. In M. A. Vanchevsky (Ed.), Frontiers in Cognitive Psychology (pp. 127-143). New York NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Nielsen, M., Suddendorf, T., & Dissanayake, C. (2006). Imitation and self-recognition in autism: In search of an explanation. In S. J. Rogers & J. H. G. Williams (Eds.),Imitation and the social mind: Autism and typical development (pp. 138-156). New York NY: Guilford Press.
Nielsen, M., Collier-Baker, E., Davis, J. M., & Suddendorf, T. (2005) Imitation recognition in a captive chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Animal Cognition,8, 31-36.
Nielsen, M., & Dissanayake, C. (2004). Imitation, pretend play and mirror self-recognition: A longitudinal investigation through the second year. Infant Behavior and Development, 27, 342-365.
Nielsen, M., & Dissanayake, C. (2003). A longitudinal study of immediate, deferred, and synchronic imitation through the second year. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour,1, 305-318.
Nielsen, M., Dissanayake, C. A. & Kashima, Y. (2003). A longitudinal investigation of self-other discrimination and the emergence of mirror self-recognition. Infant Behavior and Development,26, 213-226.
Nielsen, M., & Dissanayake, C. A. (2003). Synchronic imitation as pre-linguistic social interaction. In K. Dautenhan and C. L. Nehaniv (Eds.) Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Imitation in Animals and Artifacts (pp. 131-137). Wales, UK: The Society of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour.
Nielsen, M., & Dissanayake, C. (2001). A study of pretend play and false belief in pre-school children: Is all pretence metarepresentational? In S. Reifel (Ed.) Theory in context and out (pp. 199-215). Westport CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Nielsen, M., & Dissanayake, C. (2000). An investigation of pretend play, mental state terms, and false belief understanding: In search of a metarepresentational link. British Journal of Developmental Psychology,18, 609-624.
Nielsen, M., & Day, R. H. (1999). William James and the evolution of consciousness. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 19, 90-113
Note: Coordinator roles prior to 2009 and tutor roles prior to 2006 are not included.
Students who work with me undertake projects that typically focus on the development of social-cognitive skills with a broad view on their possible role in young children’s attainment and transmission of culturally bound behaviours.
Some broad project ideas for 2016 include (but are not limited to):
I will also be co-supervising a student with James Kirby (https://www.psy.uq.edu.au/directory/index.html?id=1265) on the development of compassion in young children.