Department of Philosophy

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University


I am a comparative psychologist, studying cognition and communication in humans, other primates, dogs, wolves, lions, tigers, pumas and elephants.

Previously, I have worked on dolphin meta-cognition (theory of mind) and human kinship and altruism. I completed my doctorate at University of St Andrews in 2011 on nonverbal referential communication in bonobos, chimps and orangutans.

In Lund I am involved in studies of low-level imitative abilities (such as contagious yawning) in children, chimpanzees, canids, elephants and big cats. I also work on a project about social bonding and imitation and its influence on social cognition in humans & chimpanzees, as well as a project on the evolution of musicality, which examines synchronisation behaviours and rhythm perception in chimpanzees.

I collaborate with a number of sites, e.g. Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Wolf Park, Exotic Feline Rescue Center, and Adventures with Elephants, Knysna Elephant Park
For more, incl papers:



Books (1)
Articles (5)
  • Persson, T., Sauciuc, G.-A. & Madsen, E. (2018). Spontaneous cross-species imitation in interaction between chimpanzees and zoo visitors. Primates, 59, 19-29. Springer.
  • Madsen, E. & Persson, T. (2013). Contagious yawning in domestic dog puppies (Canis lupus familiaris): The effect of ontogeny and emotional closeness on low-level imitation in dogs. Animal Cognition, 16, 233-240. Springer.
  • Madsen, E., Persson, T., Sayehli, S., Lenninger, S. & Sonesson, G. (2013). Chimpanzees show a developmental increase in susceptibility to contagious yawning: A test of the effect of ontogeny and emotional closeness on yawn contagion. PLoS ONE, 8. Public Library of Science.
  • Zlatev, J., Madsen, E., Lenninger, S., Persson, T., Sayehli, S., van de Weijer, J. & Sonesson, G. (2013). Understanding communicative intentions and semiotic vehicles by children and chimpanzees. Cognitive Development, 28, 312-329. Elsevier.
  • Madsen, E., Tunney, R. J., Fieldman, G., Plotkin, H. C., Dunbar, R. I. M., Richardson, J.-M. & McFarland, D. (2007). Kinship and altruism: A cross-cultural experimental study. British Journal of Psychology, 98, 339-359. Wiley-Blackwell.
Conference contributions (5)

Research portal (Lund University)

Other tasks and qualifications

Elainie Madsen

Cognitive Science
Department of Philosophy

Contact information

E-mail elainie.madsenlucs.luse

Mobile +46 72 732 10 77

Room LUX:B476

Visiting address Helgonavägen 3, Lund

Postal address Box 192, 221 00 Lund

Internal post code 30