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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Rahel Brügger

Rahel Brügger, Dr.

Room number
Y42 K-94

Research Interests

I am a behavioral biologist (and primatologist) and broadly interested in the evolution of morality and theory of mind abilities. During my PhD I worked on topics of social evaluation and third-party understanding in common marmosets – a prerequisite for morality and theory of mind abilities. I used naturally occurring vigilance behavior to investigate marmosets understanding of their conspecifics behavior and attentional states, investigated marmosets sensitivity to audience effects and combined a novel experimental approach and thermography as a non-invasive method to measure arousal levels to assess marmosets understanding of third parties and their evaluation of them.
For my Post-Doc I am Part of the ERC Research Project ENGINE where we are investigating the consequences of interdependence in cooperatively breeding common marmosets to further our understanding of why human minds are so unique.
I am very interested in applying non-invasive experimental approaches, especially thermography that help us gain insight into animals minds and I love
all things R and data analysis.


Brügger, R. K., Willems, E. P. & Burkart, J. M. (2023). Looking out for each other: coordination and turn taking in common marmoset vigilance. Animal Behaviour. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2022.11.007.

Burkart, J., Sehner, S., Brügger, R., Adriaense, J., & Van Schaik, C. (2023). Putting the cart before the horse? The origin of information donation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X2200084X

Burkart, J. M., Adriaense, J. E. C., Brügger, R. K., Miss, F. M., Wierucka, K., & van Schaik, C. P. (2022). A convergent interaction engine: vocal communication among marmoset monkeys. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, doi: 10.1098/rstb.2021.0098

Brügger, R. K. & Burkart, J. M. (2021). Parental reactions to a dying marmoset infant: Conditional investment by the mother, but not the father. Behaviour. doi: 10.1163/1568539X-bja10108.

Brügger, R. K., Willems, E. P. & Burkart, J. M. (2021) Do marmosets understand others’ conversations? A thermography approach. Science Advances 7(6), eabc8790, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc8790

Gokcekus, R., Brügger, R. K. & Burkart, J. M. (2020). Active sharing of a novel, arbitrary innovation in captive cotton-top tamarins? Behaviour. doi:

Ermatinger, F. A., Brügger, R. K. & Burkart, J. M. (2019). The use of infrared thermography to investigate emotions in common marmosets. Physiology and Behavior, 211: 112672,

Burkart, J.M., Brügger, R. K., van Schaik,  C. P., (2018). Evolutionary origins of morality. Insights from nonhuman primates, Frontiers in Psychology, 3:17,

Brügger, R.K., Kappeler-Schmalzriedt, T. & Burkart, J.M. (2018). Reverse audience effects on helping in cooperatively breeding marmoset monkeys. Biology Letters, 14(3),