The Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDP) started the Raphael and Jolene Gruener Research Travel Award in 2011. The Grueners have been tireless supporters of interdisciplinary research and education at the University of Arizona. They are also well known for their love of travel. The Gruener Research Travel Award will support awards that fund student research travel, bringing together these two passions of the Grueners.
The award is intended to offset some of the costs associated with international or domestic travel expenses such as airfare, and meals. This is a meritorious award and will be granted on the competitive and innovative content of the statement submitted with the application. Awards are contingent upon the availability of funds. Students are eligible to receive a total of $1,000 per award year. Students may submit only one application per award year during the open application session: mid-February - mid-March.
Daniel is an Anthropology major and is minoring in the Cognitive Science GIDP program. For the Gruener Research Travel Award, Daniel traveled to Humacao, Puerto Rico where he focused on his research project "Do Monkeys Truly Represent Others' True Beliefs".
Whether, and to what extent, animals understand the mental states of others is a longstanding question in comparative cognition. As adult humans, we recognize that other agents act in ways that are consistent with the facts they have about the world. We understand that others know things and we use these cognitive representations of others’ knowledge to make predictions about how individuals will behave. This project aims to assess whether monkeys, like humans, can represent others’ knowledge (i.e. true beliefs) about the world. My first study in this line of research offers support for the idea that monkeys do not represent others’ true beliefs like humans, but rather use a simple heuristic that results in systematic errors in their expectations about others’ knowledge in certain cases, and therefore helps to explain a host of seemingly contradictory results in the literature . As a follow-up, my proposed study will more critically examine what specific factors cause these systematic errors. In other words, this study will help explain how and why monkeys do not represent others' knowledge states in the same way that humans do.
"The research funded by the Gruener Research and Travel Award forms the basis of the second paper of my three paper dissertation, which I plan to defend in May 2021. After I defend, I will be joining the Department of Psychology at Yale University as a postdoctoral associate where I will continue studying non-human primate social cognition via a combination of computational modeling and fieldwork."