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Jennifer Vonk, Ph.D.


Office: 211 Pryale Hall
Phone: (248) 370-2318
Fax: (248) 370-4612

Please see my personal web page for a full list of publications: jennifervonk.com

PhD- York University (2002); Toronto, Ontario
MA- Wilfred Laurier University (1998); Waterloo, Ontario
BA- McMaster University (1994); Hamilton, Ontario

Research Interests
I am a comparative/cognitive psychologist with primary research interests in two overlapping areas: (1) animal cognition, and (2) cognitive development. The underlying goal of my work is to examine cognitive continuities and discontinuities between humans and both closely and distantly related species. Thus, my work focuses on examining both phylogenetic and ontogenetic origins of cognitive processes thought to be unique to humans. Current work centers on social cognition, such as theory of mind, prosociality, and reasoning about emotions, as well as physical cognition, such as causal reasoning, analogical reasoning, numerosity, and natural concept formation. More recent work is focused on examining the effects of religiosity, attachment, and perspective-taking on human decision-making processes. 

Select Peer-Reviewed Publications
Johnson-Ulrich, Z., Vonk, J., Humbyrd, M., Crowley, M., Wojtkowsk, E., Yates, F., & Allard, S. (in press). Picture object correspondence in an American black bear (Ursus Americanus). Animal Cognition.

Vonk, J., Patton, C. & Galvan, M. (in press). Not so Cold-Blooded: Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Traits predict Attachment to Traditional and Non-traditional Pets.Anthrozoos.

Vonk, J. & Pitzen, J. (in press). Believing in other minds: Accurate mentalizing does not predict religiosity. Personality and Individual Differences.

Enjaian, B., Zeigler-Hill, V., & Vonk, J. (in press). The relationship between approval-based contingent self-esteem and conformity is influenced by sex and task difficulty. Personality and Individual Differences.

Vonk, J. & Pitzen, J. (2016). Religiosity and the formulation of causal attributions. Thinking and Reasoning, 22, 119-149.

Hoffmaster, E.,Vonk, J., & Mies, R. (2016). Education to action: Improving public perception of bats. Animals, 6:6  DOI: 10.3390/ani6010006

Galvan, M. & Vonk, J. (2016). Man’s other best friend: Domestic cats (F. silvestris catus) and their understanding of human emotion cues. Animal Cognition, 19, 193-205.

Ewing, D., Zeigler-Hill, V.,  & Vonk, J., (2016). Spitefulness and deficits in the social-perceptual and social-cognitive components of theory of mind. Personality and Individual Differences, 91, 7-13.

Zeigler-Hill, V. & Vonk, J. (2015). Dark personality features and emotion dysregulation. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 34, 692-704.

Hamilton, J. & Vonk, J. (2015). Do dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) recognize kin? Behavioral Processes, 119, 123-134.

McGuire, M., Williams, K.L, Welling, L., & Vonk, J. (2015). Cognitive bias in rats is not influenced by oxytocin. Frontiers in Comparative Psychology, 6, 1306-1331. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01306.

Vonk, J., Zeigler-Hill, V., Ewing, T. D., Mercer, S, & Noser, A.E., (2015). Mind-reading in the dark: Dark personality features and theory of mind. Personality and Individual Differences, 87, 50-54.

Aradhye, C., Vonk, J., & Arida, D. (2015). Adults’ responsiveness to infant expression. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 135, 56-71.

Zeigler-Hill, V., Noser, A.E., Roof, C., Vonk, J. & Marcus, D.K. (2015). Spitefulness and moral values. Personality and Individual Differences, 77, 86-90.

Vonk, J. & Hamilton, J. (2014). Orangutans (Pongo abelii) and a Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) match features in familiar and unfamiliar individuals. Animal Cognition, 17(5), 1089-1105.

Vonk, J. & Galvan, M. (2014). What do natural categorization studies tell us about apes and bears? Animal Behavior & Cognition, 1, 309-330.

Vonk, J. &  Johnson-Ulrich, Z. (2014). Social and non-social category discriminations in a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and American black bears (Ursus americanus). Learning and Behavior, 42, 231-245.

Vonk, J., Torgerson-White, L, McGuire, M., Thueme, M., Thomas, J. & Beran, M.J. (2014). Quantity estimation and comparison in Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Animal Cognition, 17, 755-765.

Vonk, J. (2014). Quantity matching by an orangutan (Pongo abelii). Animal Cognition, 17, 297-306.

Vonk, J. & Vedder, C. (2013). A Zoo-housed chimpanzee’s (Pan troglodytes) responses to potentially arousing stimuli. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 26, 213-232.

Zeigler-Hill, V., Li, H., Masri, J., Smith, A., Vonk, J. Madson, M.B. & Zhang, Q. (2013). Self-esteem instability and academic outcomes in American and Chinese college students. Journal of Research in Personality, 47, 455-463. 

Vonk, J., Jett, S. E., Mosteller, K.W. & Galvan, M. (2013). Natural category discrimination in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) at three levels of abstraction. Learning and Behavior, 41, 261-274. doi: 10.3758/s13420-013-0103-0

Vonk, J., Zeigler-Hill, V., Mayhew, P. & Mercer, S. (2013). Mirror mirror on the wall: Which form of Narcissist knows self and others best of all? Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 396-401.

Zamisch, V. & Vonk, J. (2012). Spatial memory in captive American black bears  (Ursus Americanus). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 126, 372-387.

Vonk, J., Jett, S.E., & Mosteller, K.W. (2012). Concept formation in American black bears (Ursus americanus). Animal Behaviour, 84, 953-964.

Vonk, J. & Beran, M.J. (2012). Bears “count” too: Quantity estimation and comparison in black bears (Ursus Americanus). Animal Behaviour, 84, 231-238.

Subiaul, F., Vonk, J. & Rutherford, M.D. (2011). The ghosts in the computer: The role of agency and animacy attributions in “Ghost Controls”. PLoS ONE 6, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026429. 

Cater, T.E., Zeigler-Hill, V.  & Vonk, J. (2011). Narcissism and recollections of early life experiences. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 935-939. 

Vonk, J. & Povinelli, D.J. (2011). Individual differences in long-term cognitive testing in a group of captive chimpanzees. Special issue for International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 24, 137-167.

West, S., Jett, S.E., Beckman, T. & Vonk, J. (2010). The Phylogenetic roots of cognitive dissonance. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 124, 425-432.

Vonk, J. & Subiaul, F. (2009). Do chimpanzees know what others can and cannot do? Reasoning about ‘capability’. Animal Cognition, 12, 267-286.

Subiaul, F., Vonk, J., Barth, J., &. Okamoto-Barth, S. (2008).  Do Chimpanzees learn reputation by observation? Evidence from direct and indirect experience with generous and selfish strangers. Animal Cognition, 11, 611-623. 

Vonk, J., Brosnan, S.F., Povinelli, D.J., Henrich, J. Shapiro. S., Richardson, A, Lambeth, S.P. & Silk, J.B. (2008). Chimpanzees do not take advantage of low-cost opportunities to deliver food to group-mates. Animal Behaviour, 75, 1757 - 1770.

Vonk, J. & Horton, K.D. (2006). The role of automatic and conscious retrieval processes in directed forgetting. Memory & Cognition, 34, 505-517.

Silk, J., Brosnan, S.F., Vonk, J., Henrich, J., Povinelli, D.J., Shapiro, S., Richardson, A, Lambeth, S.P., & Mascaro, J. (2005). Chimpanzees are indifferent to the welfare of unrelated group members. Nature, 437, 1357-1359.

Horton, K.D., Wilson, D.E., Vonk, J., Kirby, S.L., & Nielsen, T. (2005). A comparison of implicit memory and process dissociation with the speeded response procedure: Depth of processing and attentional effects on automatic retrieval. Acta Psychologica, 119, 235-263.

Vonk, J., & MacDonald, S.E. (2004). Levels of abstraction in orangutan (Pongo abelii) categorization. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 118, 3-13.

Povinelli, D.J. & Vonk, J. (2004). We don’t need a microscope to explore the chimpanzee’s mind. Jointly published in Mind and Language, 19, 1-28, and S. Hurley & M. Nudds (Eds.) Rational Animals (2006) Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Povinelli, D.J. & Vonk, J. (2003). Chimpanzee Minds: Suspiciously Human. Trends in Cognitive Science, 7, 157-160.

Vonk, J. (2003). Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Orangutan (Pongo abelii) understanding of first and second order relations. Animal Cognition, 6, 77-86.

Vonk, J. (2002). Can Orangutans (Pongo abelii) and Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) acquire concepts for social relationships? International Journal of Comparative Cognition, 15, 257-277.

Vonk, J., & MacDonald, S.E. (2002). Natural concept formation in a juvenile gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at 3 levels of abstraction. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour, 78, 315-332.

Clark, M.M., Vonk, J.M., & Galef, B.G. Jr. (1998). Intrauterine position, parenting and nest-site attachment in male Mongolian Gerbils. Developmental Psychobiology, 32, 177-181.

Clark, M.M., DeSousa, D., Vonk, J., & Galef, B.G. Jr. (1997). Parenting and potency: routes to reproductive success in male Mongolian gerbils. Animal Behaviour, 54, 635-642.

Clark, M.M., Vonk, J.M., & Galef, B.G. Jr. (1997). Reproductive profiles of adult Mongolian Gerbils gestated as the sole fetus in a uterine horn. Physiology and Behaviour, 61, 77-81.

Vonk, J., Weiss, A., & Kuczaj, S. (under contract). Personality in Non-Human Animals. Springer publishers.

Vonk, J. & Shackelford, T.K. (Eds) (under contract). Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior and Cognition. Springer publishers.

Vonk, J. & Shackelford, T.K. (Eds) (2012). Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology, Oxford University Press.

Chapters and Commentaries
Vonk, J. (in review). Abstract Concept Learning. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, edited by Todd K. Shackelford and Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford. Springer.

Vonk, J. (in review). Same-Different Categorization. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, edited by Todd K. Shackelford and Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford. Springer.

Vonk, J. & Oriani, S. (in review). Controversies. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, edited by Todd K. Shackelford and Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford. Springer.

Vonk, J. (in review). Why humans are unique. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, edited by Todd K. Shackelford and Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford, Springer.

Vonk, J. (in review). When Theorizing about Theory of Mind produces a Stalemate: A Bottom-Up Approach to the Question of whether Animal Brains Read Minds. Invited chapter for The Mind-Reading Brains edited by Frank Grasso, José E. Burgos, Óscar García-Leal, and Romana Akram, Springer Publishers.

Vonk, J. (2016). Bigger Brains may Make Better Problem-Solving Carnivores. Learning and Behavior, 44, 99-100.

Vonk, J. (2016). Apes have eyes to the future. Learning and Behavior. Online first at DOI: 10.3758/s13420-016-0213-6

Vonk, J., Mayhew, P.  & Zeigler-Hill, V. (2016). Gender roles predict social cognitive skills, such as empathy and theory of mind. D.F. Watt and J. Pankseep (Eds.) The Neurobiology and Psychology of Empathy, Nova Publishers.

Vonk, J. Hoffmaster, E., Johnson-Ulrich, Z. & Oriani, S. (2015). If we build it comparative psychologists will come: Commentary on “A crisis in comparative psychology: Where have all the undergraduates gone” Frontiers in Comparative Psychology, 6:1700. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01700.

Vonk, J., Allard,S. Torgerson-White, L. Bennett,C, Galvan, M. ϯ.McGuire, M.M. ϯ Hamilton, J. ϯ, Johnson-Ulrich, Z. ϯ,  & Lieb. J. ϯ (2015). Manipulating spatial and visual cues in a win-stay foraging task in captive grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilus). In Spatial Memory: Long and short-term Memory: Functions, Differences and Effects of Injury, Nova publishers.

Vonk, J. & Aradhye, C. (2015). Evolution of cognition. [pp. 479-488]. In M. Muehlenbein (Ed). Basics in Human Evolution, Elsevier, London.

Cwikla, J. & Vonk, J. (2015). How do fair sharing tasks facilitate young children’s access to fractional concepts? [pp. 173-189]  In U. Gellert, J. Gimenez-Rodriguez, C. Hahn and S. Kafoussi (Eds.) Educational Paths to Mathematics, A C.I.E.A.E.M. Sourcebook. Springer, New York.

Vonk, J., McGuire, M , & Johnson-Ulrich, Z. (2015). The Evolution of social Cognition [pp. 81-96]. In V. Zeigler-Hill, L. Welling & T.K. Shackelford (Eds). Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Psychology, Springer, New York.

Cater, T., Vonk, J. & Biondillo, A.  (2015). Analogical reasoning in two domains: The Influence of verbal reasoning. In. M. Bryant (Ed) Social Relationships and Friendships: Perceptions, Influences on human development and psychological effects. Nova Publishers.

Vonk, J. & Shackelford, T.K. (2015). Comparative evolutionary psychology: Current status and a proposal for a more integrated future. [pp. 394-399]. In  J. D. Wright (Ed) International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences 2nd Edition, Elsevier Oxford, U.K..

Vonk, J. (2015). Corvid cognition: Something to crow about? Invited commentary for Current Biology, 25, R69-R71.

Aradhye, C. & Vonk, J. (2014). Theory of mind in grandiose and vulnerable facets of Narcissism. [pp 347-363] Invited chapter in Besser. A. (Ed.) Handbook of the Psychology of Narcissism: Diverse Perspectives, Nova Publishers.

Vonk, J. & & Shackelford, T.K. (2014). Introduction to comparative evolutionary psychology: Merging Perspectives. Animal Behavior & Cognition, 1, iv-viii.

Vonk, J. & Mosteller, K.W. (2013) Perceptual versus conceptual memory processes in a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). In  Howe, M., Toglia, M., Otgaar, H., & Schwartz, B. (Eds). What is Adaptive about Adaptive Memory. Oxford University Press.

Vonk, J., & Shackelford, T.K. (2013). An introduction to comparative evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 459-469.

Vonk, J. (2013). Concepts, comparative perspectives. Article commissioned for the Encyclopedia of the Mind. H. Pashler (Ed.). Sage Publishers, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Vonk, J. & Povinelli, D.J. (2012). Similarity and difference in the conceptual systems of primates: The Unobservability hypothesis. In E.Wasserman and T. Zentall (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition, 2nd Ed. Oxford University Press. 

Vonk, J. & Shackelford, T.K. (2012). Toward Bridging Gaps: Finding Commonality among Evolutionary and Comparative Psychologists. In. J. Vonk & T. Shackelford (Eds) Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology, pp 3-16. Oxford University Press. New York

Vonk, J. & Shackelford, T.K. (2012). Comparative Evolutionary Psychology: A United Discipline for the Study of Evolved Traits In. J. Vonk & T. Shackelford (Eds) Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology, pp 547-560. Oxford University Press. New York.

Finsterwald, A., Reaux, J.E., Vonk, J., & Povinelli, D.J.  (2012). Sorting Weight. In Povinelli, D.J. (Ed.) World without weight: perspectives on an alien mind. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Povinelli, D.J., Reaux, J.E., Dunphy-Lelii, S.L., & Vonk, J. (2012). Weight As Impediment. In Povinelli, D.J. (Ed.) World without weight perspectives on an alien mind. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Povinelli, D.J., Vonk, J. & Castille, C.M., (2012). Developing (f) Weight. In Povinelli, D.J. (Ed.), World without weight: perspectives on an alien mind. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Vonk, J., Finsterwald, A., Dorton, W., Reaux, J.E., Faughn, C.  Penn, D.C., & Povinelli, D.J., (2012). The Impact of Weight. In Povinelli, D.J. (Ed.) World without weight: perspectives on an alien mind. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Vonk, J., Reaux, J.E., & Povinelli, D.J. (2012). Close Imposters: Balance, Support, and Deformation. In Povinelli, D.J. (Ed.), World without weight: perspectives on an alien mind. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Vonk, J., & Povinelli, D.J. (2011). Preliminary Investigations of Cognitive Plasticity: Social and Physical Causality in Home-Reared Chimpanzees.  In Naomi Eilan, Hemdat Lerman & Johannes Roessler (eds.), Perception, Causation, and Objectivity. Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. pp 342-367. Oxford University Press.

Vonk, J. & Povinelli, D.J. (2010). Animal Intelligence. Article commissioned for Corsini’s Encyclopedia of Psychology, 4th edition. Wiley Publishers, Washington D.C..

Vonk, J. & Povinelli, D.J. (2006). Similarity and difference in the conceptual systems of primates: The Unobservability hypothesis. In E.Wasserman and T. Zentall (Eds.) Comparative Cognition: Experimental Explorations of Animal Intelligence. Oxford University Press, England. pp.363-387.

Silk, J., Brosnan, S.F., Vonk, J., Henrich, J., Povinelli, D.J., Shapiro, S., Richardson, A, Lambeth, S.P., & Mascaro, J. (2006). Animal Behaviour: Chimpanzee choice and prosociality (reply). Nature, 440, E6.

Published Book Reviews
Vonk, J. (2006). The Puzzle of Great Ape Cognition: Still in Pieces. [Review of the book “The evolution of thought: Evolutionary origins of Great Ape intelligence”], Current Anthropology, 47, 558.

MacDonald, S.E. & Vonk, J. (2002). [Review of the book “The Orangutans: Their Evolution, Behavior, and Future”], Quarterly Review of Biology, 77, 81-82.

Invited Conference Presentations
Vonk, J. (2013). Quantity estimation in bears and gorillas. Invited paper as part of Symposium on Numerical  competence: from apes to ants. Behaviour, Aug 4-8, Newcastle, UK.

Vonk, J. (2013). Invited paper as part of Symposium on Memory as Adaptation: Perspectives from Comparative, Developmental and Cognitive Psychology. The 13th annual meeting of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Austin TX, March 1. 

Vonk, J., Jett, Stephanie, E., & Mosteller, K. (2011). Natural Concept Discriminations in American Black Bears at Varying Levels of Abstraction. The 11th annual meeting of The Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, New Orleans, March 12th.

Vonk, J.  (2009). Whose perspective is being taken? A critical look at experiments on perspective-taking in non-humans. Invited paper presented at “Social cognition in animals: Is it as smart as it looks?” Workshop. Haren, the Netherlands, Oct. 26.

Vonk, J. (2009).  Memory and Concept Formation in American Black Bears (Ursus americanus). "Invited Symposium on Animal Minds: Sea Lions and Voles and Bears (and Dolphins and Monkeys), Oh My!" Southeastern Psychological Association, New Orleans, Feb 19.  

Vonk, J. & Povinelli, D.J. (2005). Theory of mind in non-human primates: an Empirical Challenge. Paper presented at Human Behavior and Evolution Society 2005 Conference, June 5, Austin, TX.

Vonk, J. (2005). Causality in non-humans: Empirical Questions. Invited paper published online for Interdisciplines: Causality, May 23, 2005.

Invited Talks
Vonk, J. (2012). What do we know about how bats think? Presentation for the 11th Annual Great Lakes Bat Festival, Southfield MI, Sept. 29.

Vonk, J., Saulter, J., & Pederson, C. (2012).Can bats recognize themselves in mirrors? Poster presented at the 11th annual Great Lakes Bat Festival, Sept. 29, Southfield MI.

Vonk, J.  (2012). Cognitive Capabilities in American Black Bears (Ursus Americanus). Presentation for Psi Chi, Oakland University, March 15.  

Vonk, J. (2009). Cognitive continuity or discontinuity? Similarities and Differences between humans and other Species. University of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Aug. 13th

Vonk, J. (2008). Cognitive continuity and discontinuities in humans and other primates. Hoffstra University, Long Island, NY, Nov 4th. 

Vonk, J. (2008). Similarities and differences in conceptual systems in humans and other primates. Lunch Bunch seminar, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, March 7th.

Department of Psychology

Pryale Hall, Room 111
654 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2300
Fax: (248) 370-4612