Centre for Behaviour and Evolution

Staff Profile

Dr Bess Price



I received my PhD in Psychology from the University of St. Andrews, where I explored the cultural learning mechanisms underlying tool use and problem-solving in chimpanzees, children, and ravens. Upon completion, I undertook a National Science Foundation funded post-doctoral position at Smithsonian's National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with The George Washington University Ape Mind Initiative. There, I continued to explore my interest in cultural transmission and tool use, working with orangutans, gorillas, and children.  As a lecturer at Newcastle University, I aim to follow-up on these themes, while also delving more deeply into developmental psychology.


I use a combination of methods to address questions about social learning, cumulative culture, and tool use in humans and other animals. From a comparative perspective, I am interested in why and when animals seek information from each other, and how this affects transmission and subsequent retention of information. I also test so-called "insightful" behaviour, or whether animals can solve sophisticated problems efficiently on an individual level. From a developmental perspective, my research addresses how children learn about tools, and how these learning processes change throughout ontogeny. I aim to extend this line of research to include comparisons between normally developing children and those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, with particular regard to social learning mechanisms. 

As a research associate at Smithsonian's National Zoological Park,  and a visiting researcher at other zoos and centres, I also enjoy participating in public engagement activities.


I am the module leader for PSY2001: Developmental Psychology and I also supervise undergraduate projects on the PSY3097 module.