Frans B.M. de Waal

Emory University
Primatologist; Research institution administrator; Educator
Biological Sciences
Evolution and Ecology


Frans B,M. de Waal is the Director of the Living Links Center and C.H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Psychology Department at Emory University. He is considered a pioneer of research into the politics of chimpanzees and the tendency of nonhuman primates to resolve conflicts, such as through reconciliation after fights. His work on social learning, cooperation, fairness and empathy in monkeys and apes has fueled an interest in the evolution of human morality and the cultural variability of primate societies. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982) compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His scientific work has been published in hundreds of technical articles in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His popular books — translated into twenty languages — have made him one of the world's most visible primatologists. His latest books are The Age of Empathy (2009), and The Bonobo and the Atheist (2013). Two recent edited volumes are The Primate Mind (2012) and Evolved Morality (2014). He has been elected to the (US) National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was selected by Time as one of The Worlds' 100 Most Influential People Today, and in 2011 by Discover as among 47 (all time) Great Minds of Science. Being editor-in-chief of the journal Behaviour, de Waal has stepped in the footsteps of Niko Tinbergen, one of the founders of ethology. 

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